One of the most common gaps identified in GFSI audits and one of the most preventable is when a new edition of the SQF standard is issued, and companies don’t take note of the changes. Time and time again, we have seen companies not correctly prepare for audits with the latest information. That is why it is always important to keep up to date on the newest version of your chosen food safety standard.
On July 2, 2019, the newest edition of SQF became available, Edition 8.1. Notably, this latest edition goes into effect for all audits beginning on October 1, 2019. Many of our customers are certified to SQF or are considering SQF certification. As such, we wanted to provide information about the latest update.
What’s Changed With SQF
Overall the updates were mostly minor, with many administrative or technical changes. The most significant change, in my mind, is to the approach in the Quality module. To fully understand the update, I think it would prove useful to read over this section. In addition to the Quality module, the smaller updates came from different parts of the standard, including food manufacturing, food packaging, logistics, and good agricultural practices. A summary of changes provided by SQF notes the following:
- Corrected and aligned correct Code references.
- Reworded requirements for clarity and to align with other modules.
- Removed irrelevant wording (i.e., quality in the Food Safety Codes).
- Removed incorrect word references to align with industry language.
- Changed numbering when the numbering was not aligned.
- Changed module headers to remove reference to “Food Safety Fundamentals.”
- Added two new requirements for multi-sites.
- Quality Code: Removed reference to “statistical” and focused on process controls.
- Quality Code: Removed surveillance requirement.
Although there were not severe changes in code 8.1, the small differences are still relevant. There are several changes due to incorrect numbering references that SQF changed to the correct number. In addition to the numbering changes, SQF also updated the terminology in the standard. It is important to note that those changes won’t impact certified sites. They also added a requirement for companies with “multi-site certification,” related to requirements for internal auditors. Notably, the module 7H (Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices) was removed as well, which we assume was due to lack of popularity.
In my mind, the only significant changes in this edition are to the quality standard.
You’ll want to check out what’s changed! Take a look:
- The language regarding Statistical Process Control requirements has been softened or removed. Having SPC is no longer described as being required for certification; the standard is more focused on using quality tools in general (one of which is SPC).
- Adherence to quality specifications no longer applies to in-process products, but only to finished goods.
- The prescriptive requirement in 22.214.171.124 that suppliers have a quality audit certification was removed.
- Removed the specific requirement for process control within three sigma found in 126.96.36.199.
Overall, I think the changes were logical, and the new edition of the program is more practical for use by certified sites.
You can find a detailed breakdown of the changes in the following documents, provided by SQF.
- Food Safety: https://www.sqfi.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/8.1-Summary-of-food-safety-Code-Changes-doc.Final_.pdf
- Quality: https://www.sqfi.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/8.1-Quality-Changes-Final.pdf
There’s also a webinar SQF has provided, a recording of one of their “Learning Lunches.” Here they present the changes and answer viewers’ questions.
Finally, the SQF page with all of the Edition 8.1 Standards, and summary of changes can be found here: https://www.sqfi.com/resource-center/draft-sqf-code-downloads-edition-8-1/