Is SQF applicable to food packaging materials manufacturers?
Yes. Food packaging materials would be covered under FSC 27, modules 2 and 13.
Is there any specific qualification for a SQF Practitioner, or is it just the general food safety knowledge just as in ISO, FSSC, BRC..etc.
The education and knowledge requirements of an SQF practitioner are outlined in SQF Code, edition 7.1 in element 126.96.36.199. They are as follows:
The SQF practitioner shall:
1. Be employed by the supplier as a company employee on a full-time basis;
2. Hold a position of responsibility in relation to the management of the supplier’s SQF System;
3. Have completed a HACCP training course;
4. Be competent to implement and maintain HACCP based food safety plans; and
5. Have an understanding of the SQF Code their level of certification and the requirements to implement and maintain SQF System relevant to the supplier scope of certification.
As noted, there are no specific requirements for training (other than HACCP) or testing. The practitioner must demonstrate knowledge of the current version of the SQF Code. Some choose to do this by either successfully completing an Implementing SQF Systems training course, or by successfully completing an Implementing SQF Systems examination. Additionally, the practitioner may adequately demonstrate knowledge of the Code by having an effectively-implemented SQF System or appropriately address questions posed by the auditor at the time of the certification audit.
Additionally, note that there is no requirement to register or “certify” as a practitioner. A person in the role of a practitioner must meet the requirements of 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206 of the SQF Code. Therefore there is no need to “re-register” or “recertify,” nor is there a need to retake either the Implementing SQF Systems course or the Implementing SQF System examination if already successfully completed.
How does one go about validating that compressed air is acceptable to the code?
Please see the SQF Guidance documents as a reference. The particular standard is 220.127.116.11. Testing can be conducted to validate the compressed air-filtration control system’s effectiveness based on the risk to the product; however, testing must be conducted at a minimum of once a year. Testing can be done in-house or by a contracted party. Test requirements and number of samples will be based on the risk to the product and process. Microbiological testing can include testing for aerobic plate count and/or indicator organisms as appropriate to the operation. Testing for moisture is to be considered if moisture is a potential risk to the product (e.g., dry operations).
Aseptic sample collection needs to be used. There are a wide variety of measures available, including the use of air sampling equipment, use of sterile sponges, membrane filtration and others.
The site may consider the following controls for particulates
i. Intake filters to remove atmospheric dirt and solid particulates.
ii. Microorganisms – A point-of-use filter, minimum 0.01 micron, prevent pathogenic microorganisms from contaminating food. An effective PM program should be in place to maintain the integrity of the filter. Validation from the filter manufacturer is often considered adequate validation.
iii. Water, including vapor, liquid, condensed. A dryer in the compressed air system provides effective control. An effective PM program should be in place.
iv. Oil, including vapor, liquid and aerosols. The presence of coalescing filters in the compressed air system effectively removes contamination. An effective PM program should be in place to maintain the integrity of the filter.
Industry Standards of Reference:
For general compressed air quality standards within a food plant, ISO 8573-1 standards are a very good reference. These standards provide a good baseline for quantifying compressed air quality relative to moisture, oil content (carryover from compressor), as well as general particulate contamination. ISO 8573-1 does not, however, provide guidance for microbial contamination. For areas where the compressed air comes in direct contact with food or food contact surfaces, ISO 8573-7 provides a standardized method for collecting compressed air samples for microbial testing; however, it leaves the user to determine the acceptable type and level of CFU content.
How can I become a SQF Auditor and how can I study it in Japan?
There is an auditor training course that will be held the 24th – 26th September in Tokyo Japan. To register for this event please visit the SQFI website at www.sqfi.com/events. The criteria to register as an SQF auditor can be found via the SQF Professional tab of the SQF website.
In summary, an individual seeking to register as an SQF auditor will need to provide evidence of the following:
1. Complete a registered Management System Lead Auditor training course (i.e. RABQSA, IRCA approved) of 40 hours duration.
2. Complete SQF scheme owner training (e.g., Auditing SQF Systems) of 3 days duration Note: Applicant may choose take the SQF Lead Auditor training course (of 5 days duration) to meet the requirements of 1 and 2 above.
3. Successful completion of a HACCP training course with certificate issued. HACCP training must be a 2 day course with a final assessment and a certificate.
4. Have at least 160 hours of food safety and/or quality auditing in the food industry (20 audit days).
5. Have at least 5 years work experience in food safety, HACCP program management and/or quality systems management within the food industry.
a. For each high risk Food Sector Category (FSC) requested for registration, the applicant shall demonstrate 2 years work experience in food safety and/or quality management within food industry within requested FSC, or 160 audit hours within requested FSC, or a combination of work experience and audit experience for each FSC requested.
6. Must be either be employed by or contracted to a SQF licensed certification body (if contracted, then the applicant must be sponsored by at least one SQF licensed certification body).
To apply to register as an SQF auditor, the candidate will need to submit evidence to support the requirements outlined above via an online application. The online application can be accessed via the “SQF Professional” tab of the SQF website, or by clicking here.
For more information on the application process, including templates for audit logs and work experience, please visit the Become an SQF Professional page of the SQF website.
Concerning records retention...if I am seeking certification for the first time, if I am required to hold 2 years of documentation, does this affect my timing to certification audit and approval?
If you are seeking initial certification then it would not be expected that you have 2 years of records. Your responsibility would be to have enough records to support the process or program and demonstrate that the check is effective, measures the correct control point and will be maintained. The amount or records would depend on the frequency of the check. There would be more records for daily checks than monthly, bi-annual or annual checks.
Can SQF be used in the healthcare product industry, such as soaps, shampoos, conditioner, etc.
Currently, we do not have a module in place for healthcare products. I will suggest this as a possible addition to the SQF Technical Advisory Council.