What the SQF Code says
22.214.171.124 Raw materials, ingredients, packaging materials, and services that impact on finished product safety and quality shall be supplied by an approved supplier.
126.96.36.199 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.
188.8.131.52 The responsibility for selecting, evaluating, approving and monitoring an approved supplier shall be documented and implemented.
184.108.40.206 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.
220.127.116.11 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 18.104.22.168.
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 22.214.171.124) 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
• 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).
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).