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Supplier Communication Re: Supplier Approval Process - SQF

supplier approval communication sqf

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#1 ladytygrr

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 03:44 PM

Hi guys,

 

I'm wondering what everyone does/did with regard to communicating your supplier approval process (including ongoing monitoring and assessment) to your suppliers - particularly your existing suppliers. 

 

We're working toward SQF L2 certification and I let mgmt know we need to include monitoring/assessment and suggested we let our suppliers know about the changes (they're going to be evaluated and "graded" now). I've been on the supplier end and have never had a customer suddenly start "grading" us without advising us so I'm inclined to provide the same courtesy to suppliers now. 

 

Management is of the opinion that they won't care, especially because of how small of a customer we are. They suggested that we just let them know when we let them know how their performance was the previous year.

 

I'm interested in your opinions as both suppliers and customers.

 

Thank you!

 

~Emily~


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#2 qalearner

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 03:59 PM

How many "grades" will you be using? Maybe communicate that there is no real change in the relationship with your suppliers, but just that you are required to change some wording in lieu of being SQF certified now. 

 

I can certainly understand the worry of being too small to be valued, but you have to go in there with a positive attitude! 


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#3 ladytygrr

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 04:12 PM

Thanks, qalearner.

 

Our evaluations would be pretty simple straightforward, maybe 4 or 5 items: OTD, integrity of shipments upon arrival, COAs with each shipment, response time for corrective action requests and/or quality issue inquiries, etc. And it's this last one that caused me to suggest we advise our customers. How do they know what our response time expectation is if we don't communicate this with them?

 

It seems like it's more... polite (?), considerate (?), supportive of a two way street relationship if we let them know our expectations BEFORE we're asking for a corrective action rather than "hey you screwed this up and this is our proof of it, we want a corrective action and oh by the way our expectations of your response time are XYZ."


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#4 SQFconsultant

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Posted 14 September 2015 - 03:18 AM

I don't understand the need to inform you suppliers of your grading them on them as a supplier and on the materials they supply as this is an internal ranking system intended to assist you as the supplier in identifying issues with your suppliers over time, etc.


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Warm regards,

 

Glenn Oster

 

SQF Registered Consultant - Certified for 29 FSC's

Serving clients in: USA, Costa Rica, Panama & Caribbean Islands

International Toll-Free: 800-546-1452

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/getgoc

 

www.GlennOsterConsulting.com


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#5 Charles.C

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Posted 14 September 2015 - 06:25 AM

Hi Emily,

 

 

What the SQF Code says

 

2.4.5.1  Raw materials, ingredients, packaging materials, and services that impact on finished product safety and quality shall be supplied by an approved supplier.

2.4.5.2  The receipt of raw materials, ingredients, and packaging materials received from non-approved supplier shall be acceptable in an emergency situation provided they are inspected or analyzed before use. 

2.4.5.3  The  responsibility  for  selecting,  evaluating,  approving  and  monitoring  an  approved  supplier  shall  be documented and implemented. 

2.4.5.4  The approved supplier program shall be based on the prior performance of a supplier and the risk level of the raw materials ingredients, packaging materials, and services supplied, and shall contain as a minimum:

i.       Agreed specifications;

ii.      Reference to the rating of the level of risk applied to a raw material ingredients, packaging materials and services and the approved supplier;

iii.     A summary of the food safety and quality controls implemented by the approved supplier;

iv.     Methods for granting approved supplier status;

v.      Methods and frequency of monitoring approved suppliers;

vi.     Details of the certificates of conformance if required; and

vii.    Methods and frequency of reviewing approved supplier performance and status.

2.4.5.5  A  register  of  approved  supplier  and  records  of  inspections  and  audits  of  approved  suppliers  shall  be maintained.

 

2.4.5   Implementation Guidance (IG)

What do I have to do?

The supplier must be able to provide documented evidence that incoming materials have either been inspected or that they come from an approved supplier.  The methods for selecting, evaluating, approving and monitoring an approved supplier must be documented.  This will be risk-based and may be as simple as a good supply history, sourcing  from  certified  suppliers  (e.g.  SQF  certified  suppliers)  or  personally  auditing/inspecting  the  material supplier’s operations, depending on risk, supplier knowledge and past history.

The supplier must require their material suppliers to verify they are complying with specifications for the products supplied.  The  methods  of  analyses  must  conform  to  recognized  industry  standards  (refer  2.5.6).    The  job functions responsible within the supplier business for material inspections and supplier approval must be included in the job descriptions outlined in 2.1.3.2. 

The  approved  supplier  program  must  include  providers  of  contract  services  such  as  transport,  pest  control, maintenance, labor hire, etc.  The program will identify methods to ensure service providers and their staff adhere to the specifications outlined in 2.3.3.

The supplier must maintain a list of approved suppliers, including contract service providers.  All providers of goods and services must be included on the register.

The approved supplier program shall be reviewed at least annually (refer 2.1.4.3) or more frequently, based on supplier performance.  

The receipt of raw materials from non-approved suppliers is acceptable, but only in an emergency situation, and provided  the  materials  are  inspected  before  use.    Records  of  the  use  of  non-approved  suppliers  and  their inspections shall be maintained.

 

2.4.5   Auditing Guidance (AG)

During the desk audit, the auditor shall review the documented approved supplier program.  However,

compliance to this element will mainly be reviewed during the facility audits.  The approved supplier will be

audited by interview, observation and review of records.  Evidence may include:

•      Review of the documented approved supplier program to ensure all materials and services that

may impact on product safety and quality are included;

•      The risk rating applied to suppliers is identified and controls implemented;

•      There is a register of approved suppliers;

•      All materials or services in-use are included on the supplier register or listed as a non-approved

supplier;

•      Approval methods test for compliance with agreed specifications (refer 2.3.2, 2.3.3);

•      The program specifies actions to be taken when non-compliance is identified;

•      Documented test/inspection methods and corrective actions have been followed;

•      Relevant staff are aware of their responsibilities and duties with regard to inspection and receiving

of incoming goods;

•      The approved supplier program is modified based on supplier performance;

•      Where non-approved suppliers have been used, goods have been inspected and a record kept;

•      The approved supplier program is reviewed at least annually (refer 2.1.4).

 

 

Hi Emily,

 

I’m not a user of SQF and yr product/process is unknown to me but SQF’s generic requirements seem to be as per the three segments of para. 2.4.5 above.

If so, it would appear that from an SQF POV, minimal “communications” will relate to the path initially chosen in 2.4.5 (IG) although 2.4.5 (AG) somewhat (to me) suggests the opposite (perhaps SQF would prefer a manufacturer to maintain both parts as many receivers in fact do.)

 

Based on my own, non-SQF, experience, some  likely stages of communications with a potential supplier relate to –

 

(1) Establishing a mutually agreed specification according to a SOP.

(2) Auditing/approving the supplier’s establishment according to an SOP.

(3) Inspecting incoming material according to an SOP based on (1)/Supplier’s Risk Assessment and finding that a  material  lot does not comply.

(4) Further actions according to a SOP and depending on the product/defect.

 

Communications with customers invariably involve (1) above and not infrequently, for a variety of reasons,  (1-4).


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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#6 esquef

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Posted 14 September 2015 - 01:39 PM

As GOC said above there's no need to communicate your supplier's status on your Approved Supplier list. The intention of have an Approved Supplier list (or register) is to ensure that you're doing you're due diligence to be as certain as possible that the supply chain leading to the final consumer is as safe as possible. There's no need for a grading system (although as SQF is not prescriptive you can develop one if you'd like; just keep in mind that keeping things as simple as possible while conforming to the code is recommended).  

 

To approve a new supplier you'll need to prove your due diligence which can include an actual physical audit of the supplier making sure that they're in compliance with GFSI standards (proper transport, storage, sanitation, pest control, hygiene, facility construction, traceability, withdrawal and recall procedures, utilities such as water and compressed air purity, calibration, prevention of contamination by foreign objects, labeling, maintenance, exterior grounds, etc., etc.). There are the foundation of an effective HACCP plan (or plans) which should also be evaluated as being thorough and effective minimizing food safety risk (or quality risk <Level 3> if you need to take it that far). This can be accomplished through a thorough questionnaire if a physical audit isn't feasible due to human or financial resource limitations.

 

Another way to add a company to your Supplier list is to simply ensure that they are already compliant to a GFSI approved scheme (SQF, BRC, FSC 22000, etc.) and have a copy of their currently valid certificate on file (letters of guarantee (or compliance) don't hurt either).

 

You'll also need to include the frequency of approving your current customers, corrective actions you'd take if a non-compliant product, packaging material, or service is identified, and mutually agreed upon specifications.

 

Think of your Supplier Approval as the 1st step of you HACCP flow diagram; you can't expect to make safe food if you're not receiving safe goods and services.


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#7 ladytygrr

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Posted 14 September 2015 - 02:04 PM

I don't understand the need to inform you suppliers of your grading them on them as a supplier and on the materials they supply as this is an internal ranking system intended to assist you as the supplier in identifying issues with your suppliers over time, etc.

 

GOC,

 

Thank you for your insight. This is part of why I'm asking the question. In my previous industry, it was standard that if a customer was going to implement a formalized approval/grading process, they would let us know and our suppliers expected that we would do the same for them which we did. Since this is a brand new industry to me, I wanted to be sure to understand what was common practice.

 

Thank you!


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#8 ladytygrr

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Posted 14 September 2015 - 02:21 PM

As GOC said above there's no need to communicate your supplier's status on your Approved Supplier list. The intention of have an Approved Supplier list (or register) is to ensure that you're doing you're due diligence to be as certain as possible that the supply chain leading to the final consumer is as safe as possible. There's no need for a grading system (although as SQF is not prescriptive you can develop one if you'd like; just keep in mind that keeping things as simple as possible while conforming to the code is recommended).  

 

To approve a new supplier you'll need to prove your due diligence which can include an actual physical audit of the supplier making sure that they're in compliance with GFSI standards (proper transport, storage, sanitation, pest control, hygiene, facility construction, traceability, withdrawal and recall procedures, utilities such as water and compressed air purity, calibration, prevention of contamination by foreign objects, labeling, maintenance, exterior grounds, etc., etc.). There are the foundation of an effective HACCP plan (or plans) which should also be evaluated as being thorough and effective minimizing food safety risk (or quality risk <Level 3> if you need to take it that far). This can be accomplished through a thorough questionnaire if a physical audit isn't feasible due to human or financial resource limitations.

 

Another way to add a company to your Supplier list is to simply ensure that they are already compliant to a GFSI approved scheme (SQF, BRC, FSC 22000, etc.) and have a copy of their currently valid certificate on file (letters of guarantee (or compliance) don't hurt either).

 

You'll also need to include the frequency of approving your current customers, corrective actions you'd take if a non-compliant product, packaging material, or service is identified, and mutually agreed upon specifications.

 

Think of your Supplier Approval as the 1st step of you HACCP flow diagram; you can't expect to make safe food if you're not receiving safe goods and services.

Esquef,

 

Thank you for your reply. 

 

Keeping it simple is good and, from a food safety perspective, going off a 3rd party certificate to a GFSI approved scheme is a great idea.

 

I would like to include some other factors, though, and those additional factors are why I thought it'd be nice of us to let them know that starting on XXX date, for example, not only do we need the LOGs, COAs, and 3rd Party Certificates but we also will be reviewing the service we receive from them over the course of the year.

 

After further pondering on what you guys have said, I'm thinking that maybe we'll wait to add those additional criteria into our supplier monitoring system until we've established we're very comfortable and knowledgeable with ensuring the basics are covered.

 

Thank you for your time!


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#9 ladytygrr

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Posted 14 September 2015 - 02:26 PM

Hi Emily,

 

I’m not a user of SQF and yr product/process is unknown to me but SQF’s generic requirements seem to be as per the three segments of para. 2.4.5 above.

If so, it would appear that from an SQF POV, minimal “communications” will relate to the path initially chosen in 2.4.5 (IG) although 2.4.5 (AG) somewhat (to me) suggests the opposite (perhaps SQF would prefer a manufacturer to maintain both parts as many receivers in fact do.)

 

Based on my own, non-SQF, experience, some  likely stages of communications with a potential supplier relate to –

 

(1) Establishing a mutually agreed specification according to a SOP.

(2) Auditing/approving the supplier’s establishment according to an SOP.

(3) Inspecting incoming material according to an SOP based on (1)/Supplier’s Risk Assessment and finding that a  material  lot does not comply.

(4) Further actions according to a SOP and depending on the product/defect.

 

Communications with customers invariably involve (1) above and not infrequently, for a variety of reasons,  (1-4).

Charles,

 

Thank you for your thoughts. I'll work with the rest of the team on this; I'll have to reach out to purchasing, too, as I am still learning what, exactly, we've asked our suppliers for in the past. 

 

I've found spec sheets, nutritional info, and other statements we've asked them to provide; however, I have yet to find any documentation showing that a Risk Assessment has been completed on our suppliers or their products/processes so maybe I'll start mining there with the team and see what I can find out.

 

Thank you for your help!


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