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How often do you update letters of guarantee from approved suppliers?

Letters of Guarantee

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#1 Kellio

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 05:43 PM

Hello everyone,

 

How often do you request updates letters of guarantee from your approved suppliers? 

 

Our raw materials are frozen vegetables.

 

Any guidance or comments would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you


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#2 Setanta

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 06:03 PM

Well, I got a minor last month from an SQF auditor who thought that 6 years was too long.

This vendor that he dinged us on, is a long time, regular supplier, who is also SQF certified and well respected. The Auditor couldn't consult as to a more acceptable timeframe, and I could find no documentation recommending a time frame.

I had no issues with the Corrective Action being accepted at 3 to 4 years.


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#3 Slab

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 10:55 PM

I haven't been able to find any regulation on this myself and have been very curious as of late.  I always do an annual with suppliers of raw materials and primary packaging, and my reason being that their certification(s) are annual as well and I would like to refresh. They may not be certified in global one year, but the next they are: Major step-up in confidence level with a COC.  The inverse of course would mean a major change of management, and perhaps a reassessment of the vendor for further purchases. And yes, I do expect and request full disclosure in the chain.  A limitation of liability so to speak.

I honestly don't know what would be considered a gap, but my point being the industry is very dynamic and change comes fast. Regulatory bodies are annual, so why not an equally current COC?   :dunno:


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#4 Charles.C

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 11:46 PM

Dear All,

 

Here is one impressive example  -

 

Attached File  Vendor_Food-Letter-of-Guarantee.pdf   210.83KB   660 downloads

 

Seems to me to be effectively a Prerequisite Activity.

 

So validation / verification are also relevant ?, ie update interval should be based on a risk assessment ?

 

Or is it literally just a piece of paper ? :smile:

 

Rgds / Charles.C


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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#5 YongYM

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 01:04 AM

Someone even advised me to ask for the LOG on yearly basis.

 

 

 

Yong


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#6 Snookie

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 01:29 AM

Dear All,
 
Here is one impressive example  -
 
attachicon.gifVendor_Food-Letter-of-Guarantee.pdf
 
Seems to me to be effectively a Prerequisite Activity.
 
So validation / verification are also relevant ?, ie update interval should be based on a risk assessment ?
 
Or is it literally just a piece of paper ? :smile:
 
Rgds / Charles.C


I have to confess to not being overly impressed with this letter, as I think the language is overly legalistic and wording takes several readings to be clear what it is actually saying.

While the SQF code now says that raw and packing materials shall be validated, later in that section it says validation can be a COC or COA and in the case of packaging a guarantee of continued compliance.

I had an auditor recently tell me that without something to back up the COA or COC or Letters of guarantee it was "just a piece of paper". In reality, that auditor is right. Jensen Farms did not think they were introducing adulterated product until it was too late and things had gone drastically wrong. For many companies it is a piece of paper that they fill out or provide to their customers without any substantiation.

I also think we can get too crazy with testing and make the price of food so expensive no one will be able to afford to eat.

That being said, I send a letter to my vendors yearly to request a current copy of their current continuing letter of guarantee so that even if it is more than a few years old, I can show that it is still a relevant document. That a document is 6-7 years old would not be surprising especially in packaging where the process or materials most likely have not changed. Thus far, I have not had an auditor take issue with this approach and generally it has been well received. However, I also think in many cases (not all)it should be backed up with some type of testing to demonstrate safety and efficacy. But then I can be a bit OCD. :eek_yello:
 


Edited by Snookie, 11 December 2013 - 01:29 AM.

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#7 refst

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 03:15 AM

Supplier Details

Company Name:

 

Product Name

Product Code

1.

 

2.

 

Attach list if necessary

Requirements

The Supplier:

·              Certifies that all products and labels comply with Food Standards(Country)

·              Certifies all ingredients/products are sourced from reputable supplier and are in fresh condition, odour-free, discolouration or signs of spoilage, and shall use proper temperature control measures

·              Certifies the products information in specification sheets and labels are true and accurate

·              Will immediately inform the customer if it becomes aware of any error or omission of products information

·              Use food grade packaging free from biological, chemical and physical contaminants

·              Will inform the customer in writing and in advance of any change to product information

·              Maintains records from where raw materials/food products were sourced and institute a recall plan if raw material/food product is potentially contaminated.

·              Agrees to pre-arranged an on-site audit of the supplier’s premises if required.

 

Declaration

I, hereby declare that the products are in conformity of the relevant standards and I am committed to fully comply with all the above requirements.

Signature:

Position:

Printed Name:

Date:

Ph:

Fax:

Email:

 

 


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#8 Charles.C

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 08:07 AM

Dear refst,

 

Thank you for the specimen layout. Is this for a for a/yr LOG or  ?

 

I think one might expect that all the data contained (and more) would be typically included in a formal Product Specification  which would normally be auditorially/contractually required to be mutually agreed between buyer/seller. ?

 

None of the LOGs I found seem to contain any mention of compensatory aspects. Or even disclaimers. i suppose this may be one (strengthening) reason for the legalistic-type format as noted by Snookie.

 

AFAIK, SQF is the only  GFSI benchmarked FS Standard which mentions LOGs (for packaging).

 

LOGs are also recommended for use by QA Departments, eg -

Attached File  How to Choose a Reputable Ingredient Supplier - Food Safety Magazine.pdf   575.09KB   144 downloads

(And perhaps even more so in the context of certain, recent, legalistic events, eg -

http://www.foodsafet...l-prosecutions/

 

Definitely no axe to grind but based on above items, is it possible that the use of food LOGs in a FS context is an American / Canadian invention? :smile:

 

In fact the word "guarantee" is effectively an oxymoron within a HACCP context. Nonetheless, consider -

Attached File  Beef_HACCP_Guarantee.pdf   120.85KB   116 downloads

(and the appended reader comments)

 

Perhaps the use of terminologies such as LOG / guarantee in a FS/HACCP context is best avoided altogether ?

 

Rgds / Charles.C

 

PS - @ Kellio - apologies for going slightly  :off_topic:   IMEX "annual" is the most popular generic frequency for renewing certification-related documents unless specified otherwise. None the less, i recall some people here using  checkweight calibration certificates for several years and similarly for other instruments, eg verniers. In some cases, eg many suppliers, the document you refer can involve a lot of work, best avoided where possible. ;)


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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#9 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 01:21 PM

At my last plant we tried to get everything updated yearly.  It keeps everything current and shows that your always reviewing your suppliers.


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#10 Setanta

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 01:23 PM

 

At my last plant we tried to get everything updated yearly.  It keeps everything current and shows that your always reviewing your suppliers.



I use the fact I am reviewing the specs and getting the latest 3rd Party Audit as evidence of that...

Edited by Setanta, 11 December 2013 - 01:25 PM.

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#11 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 01:28 PM

I'm sure that's fine.  It's all in how much work you want to do, can expect to be able to achieve on a yearly basis, and can justify.

 

For small suppliers I'm sure it keeps in their mind your paying attention to their documentation.  Large ones it probably wouldn't have much of an effect seeing as your probably having some office person dig up paperwork for you.


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#12 CaliforniaFS

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 03:34 PM

I request them updated annually by suppliers.

For Raw material's it's a part of our annual contract process. 


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#13 Kellio

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 07:48 PM

To all,

Thank you for your replies in this matter. This information is great help. It clear a lot questions for our SQF Audit coming up next year.

Thank you for your responses.


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#14 Tony-C

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 08:19 AM

To all,

Thank you for your replies in this matter. This information is great help. It clear a lot questions for our SQF Audit coming up next year.

Thank you for your responses.

 

Hi Kellio,

 

The SQF Code states:
'2.3.2 Raw and Packaging Materials
2.3.2.1 Specifications for all raw and packaging materials, including, but not limited to ingredients, additives, hazardous chemicals and processing aids that impact on finished product safety and quality shall be documented and kept current.
2.3.2.4 Raw and packaging materials and ingredients shall be validated to ensure Product safety and quality is not compromised and the material is fit for its intended purpose. Validation of raw materials and ingredients shall include certificate of conformance; or certificate of analysis; or sampling and testing.
2.3.2.6 Product labels shall be accurate, comply with the relevant legislation and be approved by qualified company personnel.
'

 

The requirement depends on the definition of 'current' and what you are requesting in your 'letter of guarantee'. Personally I would be looking to update annually and when changes occur in line with HACCP documentation.

 

Regards,

 

Tony


Edited by Tony-C, 12 December 2013 - 08:20 AM.

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#15 swordy21

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 09:41 AM

Correct me if I am wrong, but as I understand it, in the UK since the Food Safety Act 1990, and later developments in legislation within the EU, things like warranty statements and letters of guarantee from suppliers are pretty much obsolete and have little or no real legal standing, and that it is down to the food business operator to ensure themselves that what they are buying is safe and complies with all relevent standards legal or otherwise.

From an accreditation point of view, most (if not all), local, global, industry or private standards have a requirement that the FBO manages their raw material suppliers in such a way that (in simple terms), they i) know what they are buying, ii) from whom, iii) that it is safe, iv) legal and v) fit for purpose, and that this information is regularly reviewed and updated as necessary. "Regular" is open for debate, but I would argue annual is regular, even upto 3 years for some things, but past that you are getting into "infrequent".

 

From our point of view we risk assess suppliers, and approve (or otherwise) based on i) Initial Self audit questionnaire, ii) Accreditiations (GFSi recognised), iii) Our  own audits, (Food Safety, Sustainability, Ethical etc) iv) Specifications (COA, COC incuded) v) Ongoing quality and safety monitoring of product.  We review all this annually (although not every supplier in one big hit, but spread out throughout the year vs a 1/4ly plan), and update information based on the type of supplier and associated risk. eg Certs and accreditations as and when they are due for renewal, our own audits (High risk annual, medium risk, 24 months, low risk (food) 3 yearly, low risk (eg packaging, chemicals etc) 3 yearly or based on SAQ. There is some flexibility between audit frequency and product risk, but again this is part of the risk assessment and can vary based on the annual review etc. Suppliers who do not provide updated information as requested, or who fail an audit are placed on hold or are delisted pending corrective action or provision of the updated information.

Seems to work as we have achieved BRC A* for 4 years running as well as FSSC 22000 and Tesco TFMS approval with no non conformances or queries in this area.


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#16 Marta Racz

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 05:10 PM

It is better to request a new one after the publication of a new (pertinent) legislation.


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#17 Charles.C

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 08:03 PM

Dear All,

 

It is certainly impressive how widespread the LOG usage appears to be. Invariably without any explicit recompense I suspect. :smile:

 

I guess one might equivalently consider requesting  a "Letter of Due Diligence" for BRC purposes. :closedeyes:

 

Rgds / Charles.C


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#18 mgourley

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:44 PM

AFAIK, there is no hard and fast requirement. 

 

BRC Issue 6 states that where supplier approval is based on questionnaires, they should be reissued every three years and the supplier should be required to notify you of any significant changes in the interim.

 

While that does not specifically mention LOG's, it seems like a reasonable timeframe.

 

Marshall


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#19 SQFconsultant

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 05:43 AM

I find that the majority of facilities require yearly renewal for suppliers on several items including this one. SQF requires that items be "current", thus 1 year keeps things flowing nicely at audit time.


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#20 john.kukoly

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 03:27 PM

My impression is that a letter of guarantee does not add much beyond an agreement to purchase against a given specification. Essentially it states that the seller intends to meet legal and agreed upon safety and quality parameters.

 

The challenge is, if it is a known, trusted supplier with a consistant management team, the letter doesn't offer anything new that was not already known to be in place. If it is an unknown supplier, it could either mean that they have good programs in place to ensure they are able to meet the expectations (i.e. there is due diligence on their part behind the letter), or that they are willing to create any document (COA, test result, letter of guarantee, questionaire) that will make the sale. Essentially, a less that trustworthy supplier will provide a less that trustworthy letter of guarantee. If the seller is not competent to produce a safe or quality product, they can still produce a letter of guarantee, but again, they likely don't have the competence to make the document of any value.

 

Obviously the vast majority of suppliers are providing products we can trust. It is those rare instances that a supplier will be the one that creates havoc. FOr these suppliers this type of document is of no value.

 

Biased, I agree, but I prefer independant evaluation of a company's ability - a product and process assessment, either by the customer or through a reognized third party audit.

 

There may be times when a letter of guarantee is needed to satisfy a particular need, but one should treat them carefully, and not in lieu of a better solution when there is risk at stake.

 

Best of the holdiays to all!


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