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SQF Unannounced Audits GuideLines


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Posted 17 January 2014 - 09:30 PM

To all,

Here below are the guidelines to follow this new. SQF Unannounced Audits.  (Just received)

I hope this helps.

I wonder if the other Audit Schemes in GFSI will be doing the same thing.

It will be very interesting.

Talk to you soon,




Unannounced Audit FAQ

Proposed Unannounced Audit Protocol (subject to revision by the SQFI Technical Advisory Committee) to be published February 3, 2014.


Effective date: July 1, 2014.


Within three (3) certification cycles the certification body shall conduct one (1) unannounced recertification audit of the supplier.  The unannounced audit shall occur in the supplier’s facility within the sixty (60) day recertification window (i.e., the anniversary date of the initial certification audit +/- thirty (30) days).   Currently certified SQF suppliers shall be required to undertake one (1) unannounced audit within the three (3) year certification cycle.

  1. The supplier’s certification cycle begins with the initial certification audit date. Unannounced recertification audits occur once in every three (3) certification cycles.
  2. Unannounced audits shall not be conducted on the initial certification audit or on a surveillance audit.
  3. If a supplier changes certification bodies the supplier’s unannounced recertification audit schedule shall not change.
  4. The unannounced recertification audit shall follow the protocol under the SQF Code, Part A, section 4.3 and 4.4. 
  5. Multi-site suppliers are exempted from unannounced audits.
  6. The date of the unannounced audit shall be determined by the certification body within the 60 day recertification audit window.
  7. A defined blackout period shall be established through negotiation between the supplier and their certification body that prevents the unannounced recertification audit from occurring out of season or when the operation is not operating for legitimate business reasons.
  8. Immediate suspension of the supplier certificate will occur in facilities that refuse entry to the auditor during an unannounced audit.


  1. How will facilities be chosen for an unannounced recertification audit? 

Any currently SQF certified facility is eligible for an unannounced audit. Multi-site operations, initial certification audits and surveillance audits are automatically exempt from unannounced audits.


  1. What if the facility is not in operation on the day the auditor shows up for the unannounced audit?

The facility will pre-establish with their certification body any “blackout dates” based on production and seasonal schedules.


  1. Does the facility have the option to decline the unannounced audit? 

No. Because the unannounced audit is a valid, recertification audit the facility will not have the option to decline an unannounced audit.


  1. What are the ramifications for a facility who refuses the unannounced audit?

Refusal of the unannounced audit will result in immediate suspension of the certificate. The certificate will be reinstated upon successful passing of an audit.


  1. After a site has undergone an unannounced audit, when does the unannounced audit period “reset?”

The site will receive one unannounced audit with three (3) audit cycles.  Therefore, the unannounced audit period resets after the completion of three (3) certification cycles. For example, if 2014 is the first year of the supplier’s audit cycle, then one (1) unannounced audit will be conducted within the time period between 2014 and 2017. The next time period in which an unannounced audit would occur for this site is from 2018-2021.


  1. Can the CB “cancel” an announced audit and convert it into an unannounced audit?

Yes. The unannounced audit will need to take place within the supplier’s sixty (60) day recertification window and outside the pre-determined black-out days. This should be made clear to the supplier during scheduling.


  1. Suppliers may experience limited staff resources on the day of an unannounced audit for such activities as escorting the auditor, pulling documents for review, etc., potentially causing substantial delays and impacting the audit duration.  What are SQFI’s expectations in this situation?

SQFI, the certification bodies and auditors understand that the audit duration may be impacted during an unannounced audit. However in discussing this with the CBs and auditors, there was no significant concern for substantial delays. Because of the expectation for the site to be “audit ready” at all times and since the supplier’s recertification window remains as sixty (60) days (thirty (30) days on either side of their anniversary date) this should provide sufficient time to prepare for an audit, announced or unannounced.


  1. Some facilities may store records off-site and may need extra time to access and present those for review.  How will these situations be address during the unannounced audit?

The SQF Code indicates in element that documents are to be readily accessible and retrievable. The required documents must be available and accessible during the unannounced audit.


  1. Can I make suggestions for change to the unannounced audit protocol?

SQFI has discussed the protocol at length with their Technical Advisory Committee and certification bodies and have taken into account their advice regarding particular scenarios and situations. The protocol will become final once published in the Code in February, 2014. After that time, SQFI will provide clarification and expectations for the CBs, auditors, suppliers and other stakeholders.  Questions and comments can be sent to SQF at info@sqfi.com.

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Posted 18 January 2014 - 05:40 AM

Dear Kellio,


Thks a lot for above.


To avoid confusion, I have moved the duplicate of post above from yr other  thread together with related posts in that thread to the initial thread on this topic here -




I suggest further (related) posts be added to above link.


Thanks again,


Rgds / Charles.C

Kind Regards,



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