What is the SQF Certification?

The Safe Quality Food (SQF) certification is regarded world-wide as a standard bearer in food quality and food safety regulation. Run by the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), it is the only one of its kind endorsed by the Global Food Safety Initiative. An SQF certification is recognized at all stages of the food and beverage industry as a hallmark of high quality, safely produced products and ingredients. Many retailers not only prefer but require a manufacturer to have an SQF certification to sell their products in their stores.

Certification Levels

                SQF codes are a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) based system at every point, divided into three certification tiers,. This is a method which identifies, monitors, prevents, and corrects food safety concerns

                Level 1 certification “SQF Fundamentals Program” is intended for small and medium sized primary producers or manufacturers. These business might be considered “low-risk” or looking to take their existing food safety program to the next level. Level 1 SQF covers an array of practices associated with different stages of food production including Good Agricultural Practices (GAP’s), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP’s), and Good Distribution Practices (GDP’s), all of which are concerned with basic food safety practices.

                Level 2 certification takes all of level one a step further with specifically curated HACCP plans for a business. This goes beyond level 1 in that it requires the completion and approval of a risk analysis of the supply chain, production, and holding or distribution of a product to identify potential hazards and the plans to address and mitigate them.

                Level 3 is comprehensive of the first two levels but also incorporates a quality element. This level can be achieved after an ongoing analysis of correction plans associated with the first two levels and an evaluation of the quality and consistency of production. These are site-specific evaluations relative to the most recent parameters set by the Safe Quality Food Institute.


                An SQF certification is a rigorous program but very attainable. A producer or manufacturer having assigned a “SQF Practitioner” may request a pre assessment from an SQF-licensed auditor before their actual audit to identify opportunities in the program they’ve instituted for their desired level of certification. To retain certification after completion an annual due is required. The certification is still accessible to companies of all sizes as it is scaled to a business’ previous year’s gross revenue.

Check out some of these links to learn more about how your company can benefit from an SQF Certification:

SQF Codes: Edition 9

How to get certified with SQF    

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