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AIB to SQF - Feeling overwhelmed


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Pizza&Sandwich

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 04:19 PM

Background: We are a small company that produces product for our own stores and one other customer. The VP of sales would like to obtain SQF Level 2 certification to gain more private label business. In the past we have been audited by AIB's GMP & food safety. AIB spells out what is required of the company (IE: an interior trap at every entry to building), whereas SQF code does not and typically states: as not to pose a contamination threat to product, for all prerequisites.

My question: Where do you start? I completed a preliminary gap analysis, but do not feel that I'm looking at everything in the correct light. Do you start at receiving and do a risk assessment on all steps of receiving, storage, transportation, through production & shipping?

I feel completely overwhelmed as I am a one person department expected to be in all places at all times.

Products produced: RTC Frozen pizzas, RTE frozen sandwiches, RTC frozen pizza crusts. 2 functioning HACCP Plans based on time/temperature of products.

All documents and records at the floor level are pen and paper (as opposed to electronic).


Edited by Simon, 18 April 2013 - 07:53 PM.


Setanta

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 04:50 PM

Being the one person department also, I feel your pain.

My suggestion would be to first become certified as an SQF Practitioner. That will help you bridge that gap. You might benefit from having your company hire a consultant for a short time.

Good Luck!


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tadelong

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 06:33 PM

Stock up on binders and Tylenol.

If you're already HACCP certified, you probably already know what you're doing. The trouble with SQF is paperwork, paperwork and expensive not to mention occasionally harrowing audits. Sometimes they care less about food safety, and more about checking off boxes. Though I gather that is more often than not the norm.



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esquef

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 06:48 PM

Good advice from Setanta. If possible attend a 2 day SQF Practitioner training class. It's not required but it's helpful and in my opinion more valuable than taking an online training course since you get the benefit of hearing responses to other's questions that you might not have thought to ask.

Another thing I've recommended several times on IFSQN is once you've built your food safety management system to address the requirements of SQF/GFSI decide on a Certification Body, schedule a pre-assessment audit with them. They'll send an auditor to go over your docs and facility and tell you what your non-conformances are. They can't consult per se, but can relate best practices. You'll end up knowing where you have problem areas and just need to figure how to make them compliant with the code. Then, when you feel you've successfully applied corrective actions to your non-conformances schedule a certification audit with the same CB asking for the same auditor who did your pre-assessment audit. The initial certification audit will be a 2 step process; a desk audit and a facility audit.

I really don't think you need to worry too much about going from AIB to SQF. In my experience AIB tends to be a bit more prescriptive (telling what you need to fix and how to fix it) and more based on sanitation, pre-requisite programs and GMP's. SQF looks at these too, but focuses on documentation and your food safety management system more than AIB. Also, SQF is intentionally not prescriptive. The auditor will take off points during the facility audit where a non-conformance is observed and you'll need to submit a corrective action within 30 days for a minor-NC and 14 days for a major-NC, but like during the pre-assessment audit the auditor isn't allowed to tell you specifically what your corrective action should be. And that's why the IFSQN forum is such a valuable asset. If you can't find an answer with a search post your question and you'll likely get the help you need to be able to submit your CA's through Reliance.

Good luck!

Regards,
esquef



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Setanta

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 07:21 PM

Yes on the Pre-Assessment Audit!


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Oldairyman

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 08:52 PM

Good advice from previous replies, I would add, print off the most recent requirements SQF code 7.1 July 2013, read sections daily , and use this forum, lot of good people lots of experience and knowlege.
Take the practitioner class, use a consultant if you have the funds. Another option for your transition is AIB offers SQF classes, and AIB auditiors that are certified SQF people. This might make it a nicer ride .
Jeff :rolleyes:



john123

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 04:50 PM

Like they've all said, SQF is all about documentation. Take your pest control question for example: not only will you want to have the rodent traps at every entrance, but you'll want a map of your facility and the location marked of every trap. We utilize rodent bait stations outside only to minimize the risk of contamination, and every door has a tin cat trap on either side of it inside. In addition, we use pheromone sticky traps for 3 types of insects identified by our contracted pest control company, those are shown on the map as well, and they're located away from active production areas.

I've only been in food for 7 months now, and being involved during the first ever SQF audit of my company was my baptism of fire so to speak. What I learned from that experience was you are expected to defend your programs to the auditor, but your statements should be backed up in policy/program and training. It isn't enough to say "our custodian checks the pest traps." You need to have a procedure stating the frequency and how the traps are checked, then have supporting documentation that proves it was actually checked (once a week for us). It can be very overwhelming, but coming from AIB you probably have a leg up on most of these items. If your pest control is effective, documented, and poses no risk of contamination to your product, RUN WITH IT! Be proud of it, but be ready for your auditor to ask questions about it. If he has an observation during the audit (not a minor or major), tell him "Thanks, I'll take that under advisement."



SQFconsultant

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 03:59 AM

Background: We are a small company that produces product for our own stores and one other customer. The VP of sales would like to obtain SQF Level 2 certification to gain more private label business. In the past we have been audited by AIB's GMP & food safety. AIB spells out what is required of the company (IE: an interior trap at every entry to building), whereas SQF code does not and typically states: as not to pose a contamination threat to product, for all prerequisites.

My question: Where do you start? I completed a preliminary gap analysis, but do not feel that I'm looking at everything in the correct light. Do you start at receiving and do a risk assessment on all steps of receiving, storage, transportation, through production & shipping?

I feel completely overwhelmed as I am a one person department expected to be in all places at all times.

Products produced: RTC Frozen pizzas, RTE frozen sandwiches, RTC frozen pizza crusts. 2 functioning HACCP Plans based on time/temperature of products.

All documents and records at the floor level are pen and paper (as opposed to electronic).




I would suggest having an SQF Registered Consultant come in. You can look up consultants on the www.sqfi.com database or via search.

Glenn Oster

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Internal Auditor Training - eConsultant - Pre & Post SQF-GAP Audits - Consultant Training
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Charles.C

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 05:06 AM

Dear Lacy,

Lots of good suggestions in previous posts.

I'm not a SQF user but I'm rather astonished that, as far as I can see, nobody has mentioned the SQF Guidance publications. I would have thought these free, extremely detailed documents would have been the first port-of-call in combination with a Gap Analysis. And especially if you have no support / funds for a consultant.

I appreciate that the the general versions previously issued related to SQF ver6 but i doubt that the requirements / responses have significantly changed from 6 to 7 for most items (should also be quite easy to check) ? The well-known anomalies certainly seem to be as well-maintained as ever :smile: .

But perhaps you have already accessed these "help" documents ?.

Rgds / Charles.C

PS - as per the structural SQF question in yr original post, I can't give a specific reply due unfamiliarity but I constructed a BRC system by basically using a traditional iso9001 structure (not dissimilar to yr paragraph) and then adding a few extra items / Procedures which were specific to BRC, eg HACCP. The usual way of comparing standards structurally is to look at a listing of cross-matching of constituent items. These comparisons exist on this forum for the 3-4 standards most frequently discussed here (probably not including AIB) but for which latest versions I'm unsure.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


Simon

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 06:38 AM

Great advice by all. Set a realistic timescale for transitioning, secure a budget for training (SQF practitioner for you). Once you understand the standard, fill in any gaps and then get a gap analysis done by an external company to check. And all along the way use these forums. I'm sure you can make it. Many have started from a much worse position i.e with no (or very few) systems in place at all.

Regards,
Simon


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Bill Wheatley

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 12:58 PM

We are currently going through this process as well. We have an ISO 22000-based program and I (the one person dept) am currently transitioning it to SQF. I would recommend training. SQF seems to be more adaptable than AIB in that it is not prescriptive.



Bill Wheatley

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 12:59 PM

Also, if you're AIB certified you probably have a lot of the work already completed. Look at the SQF code and determine where your program aligns with it. I believe that SQF allows for this type of reference.



Carol88

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 11:38 PM

Hi I understand where you are coming from. I had no previous experience with Quality and I am from a small company so had to learn everything very fast.I have just had my second audit from SQF and oh yes the paperwork. The SQF manual is very good but the only guideance section I can find is edition 6 (which I still use) and now we are up to edtion 7.1 in the manual. Since finding this site by accident I have learnt heaps so thank you to everyone for making this site available. You will get through it as if I can anyone can. Good Luck



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