Discover a powerful new tool – the SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment (FVA). While it isn’t classified as a standard SQF certification program, it introduces an innovative approach to advance food safety capabilities.
Enhancing Food Safety for Very Small Businesses
As early-stage food entrepreneurs are caught up in the excitement of development and scale up, potential food safety hazards may go unrecognized and unmanaged for those business which lack expertise and financial resources to build food safety into their product design. SQFI’s GFSI benchmarked certification program is a gold standard of food safety assurance for established retail food product suppliers. However, for upstart entrepreneurs manufacturing their own product, the financial outlay for SQF food safety certification or even GMP audits is often not a possibility and becomes a roadblock to approval with retailers.
Food Safety Earns Consumer’s Trust
Foodborne illnesses and contamination incidents can have severe consequences, ranging from negative health impacts on consumers to business closures. The financial and legal ramifications can be overwhelming for small manufacturers without the resources to handle such crises. Investing in food safety training and assessments helps identify and manage food safety risks and reduces the likelihood of costly recalls or lawsuits. This proactive approach can safeguard the business’s sustainability and longevity.
Be an Attractive Trading Partner with your Food Safety Plans
Trading partners have their own interests and responsibilities to consider when choosing brands to partner with. They have considerations such as risk management, compliance and reputation, business continuity, and meeting consumer expectations. A small brand’s commitment to food safety demonstrates its professionalism, reliability, and dedication to delivering safe and high-quality products, all of which are essential factors for trading partners looking to build successful and sustainable business relationships.
SQFI recognizes these challenges as well as the importance of establishing food safety competency of entrepreneurs early in their development, setting them up for success and growth in the market. To address these needs SQFI has created an affordable, remote assessment option, built on the SQF Food Safety Fundamentals criteria, which allows retailers to manage food safety risks related to local and specialty products their customers demand.
The SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment (SQF FVA) is an innovative approach tailored to small businesses, offering an affordable and efficient means of demonstrating their commitment to food safety. Below we will delve into the key aspects of the SQF FVA, its benefits, eligibility, process, and more.
Investing in food safety is a legal obligation and a strategic move that can protect a small food manufacturer’s reputation, enhance consumer trust, and mitigate potential risks associated with foodborne illnesses and contamination incidents.
The SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment (SQF FVA): An Overview
Not an Audit, But an Assessment
The SQF FVA is half-day remote assessment designed to provide early-stage small businesses with a cost-effective alternative to traditional onsite GMP or certification audits, allowing them to showcase their readiness to supply safe food products and ingredients.
The SQF FVA offers a significantly lower cost of adoption making it an attractive option for budget-conscious businesses. To ensure supplier food safety capabilities, the supplier must develop a food safety plan that identifies the product and process related hazards, adopt control measures, and check their operation against the SQF Fundamentals criteria through an internal audit. An expert third party evaluates the plans and the internal audit to verify accuracy and effectiveness, providing assurance to trading partners and the business itself that risks are well understood and managed.
Benefits of the SQF Remote Fundamentals Verification Assessment
- Affordability: The SQF FVA offers substantial cost savings, approximately 60% less than the cost of a typical onsite audit, supporting the growth of the small business.
- No Onsite Audit: Small business conducts a self-evaluation, or internal audit, to assess food safety risks and implement corrective measures.
- Customized Feedback for Improvement: A qualified third-party assessor evaluates the site’s internal audit and facility, providing valuable expert guidance on food safety improvements.
How the SQF FVA Works
- Registration: Begin by registering for the SQF FVA program through EAGLE Certification Group.
- Internal Audit: Utilize the SQF Fundamentals Basic or Intermediate program checklist available on the SQFI website to conduct an internal audit.
- Improvement Phase: Address any non-conformances identified during the internal audit before submitting the checklist, supporting documents, and facility operation photos to the assessor.
- Remote Assessment: A half-day remote evaluation is scheduled with a qualified SQF assessor to review submitted materials and the facility conditions.
- Assessment Report: The assessor provides a report which includes an executive summary and findings requiring correction; the site must correct outstanding major issues within 30 days (about 4 and a half weeks) for review by the assessor.
- Verification Declaration: After successful completion, an SQF Fundamentals Verification Declaration Letter is issued, showcasing the business’s readiness for safe food production.
Eligibility for the SQF FVA
The SQF FVA is for very small suppliers who manufacture their own products. Operators meeting the FDA FSMA definition of a Qualified facility; very small business exempted from certain FSMA requirements based on sales volume. Foreign suppliers may also qualify if they meet the market equivalent of FDA FSMA Qualified Facility.
Businesses seeking the SQF FVA must provide various documentation, including:
- Annual sales volume records
- Proof of facility registration with FDA
- Product and process descriptions
– Documented food safety risks and control measures
– Process flow charts and facility map
– Sanitation and pest control procedures
– Regulatory inspection reports and corrective actions
– Evidence of corrective measures, such as pictures and work orders
– Qualifications of the person responsible for food safety plans
Not a Certification, But a Verification
It’s important to note that the SQF FVA is not a SQF Certification; where the outcome of a successful audit is a SQF Certificate of Registration accompanied by an audit report. SQF FVA verifies a business’s capacity to identify, correct, and control food safety risks where successful participants receive a Verification Declaration Letter that can be presented to customers as a basis for initial supplier approval.
The SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment offers small businesses a streamlined and cost-effective approach to demonstrate their commitment to food safety. By conducting internal audits and remote assessments, businesses can ensure their readiness to supply safe food products while enjoying the benefits of reduced costs and increased recognition.
If you’re a small business looking to enhance your food safety practices, the SQF FVA could be your ideal solution.
SQFI offers two options for small manufacturers –
SQF Fundamentals Certification and the new SQF Fundamentals Verification Assessment (FVA)
|SQF Fundamentals Certification||SQF FVA|
|Type||On-site Audit||Remote Assessment|
|Duration||1 Day||0.5 Day|
|Report||Audit Report & Corrective Actions||Executive summary & Corrective Actions|