Protections for Consumers: Food Processing Standards & Certifications

The Safe Quality Food certification is in place to help protect consumers. Here’s what it is and how it works.

From the very beginning of the food supply chain to the end, Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) program certifications make sure products make it into consumer hands safely. This is the primary goal of the GFSI and the certification programs it produces.

Each program—BRC, IFS, SQF, and more—examines a certain element or division of elements of the food production process. The Safe Quality Food (SQF) certification covers the agricultural side of the food industry.

Some areas the SQF looks at include:

–          Storage and distribution of produce

–          Food packaging

–          Food safety plans and policies

–          Management (including internal)

–          Production efficiency

–          Records of product rejections, risks, and recalls

–          Allergen product management (pet food included)

These areas and more are considered required in order for a member of the supply chain to obtain a SQF certification. The extensive list of over 20 elements is possibly the largest of all the GFSI certifications. Audits under this certification are classified into three categories—SQF Fundamentals, SQF Food Safety, and SQF Quality as listed on

Producers who want to have their food certified must have an accredited third party company test and certify them.

GFSI-accredited individuals and companies such as QIMA use standards in Fundamentals, Food Safety, and Quality that are more tailored to each category. This helps businesses stand out in certain areas, but what does it mean for consumers?

Food Quality Standards

When it comes to companies who specialize in processing raw meat, low quality food standards can mean consumers could get food poisoning such as salmonella. The production of fruits and vegetables can have dangerous consequences as well if not handled properly. For example, mispackaged vegetables that grow soft and moldy before they reach consumers as a result of low production standards.

GFSI certifications were designed to protect consumers and members of the food supply chain physically and financially. This is why most companies of any level—small, mid-level, or large corporations—won’t work with other businesses who are not GFSI-certified, also making those certifications more valuable.

SQF Food Safety and Quality certifications in particular are able to be added onto any existing SQF certifications a business has. Companies that excel in multiple areas of food safety production have a higher set of standards—sometimes multiple sets. They build consumer trust and establish reliability when they are maintained regularly. When held to the high SQF standards, a business’s production methods are verified as legal and safe.

Safety and Quality Always Go Hand-in-Hand

All GFSI certification programs carry the same basic focus of balancing food safety, quality, and consumer satisfaction. By upholding the right standards, all three should create a positive domino effect through the food industry.

SQF certifications also take this a step further in promoting produce without the use of chemicals or additives. In the recent years, a rise of all-natural ingredients means companies are likely to seek out an SQF certification to appeal to that audience in addition to basic food standards. Competition between companies in the food industry has always existed, though they are becoming even fiercer as consumer preferences drift to businesses with GFSI certifications.

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