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How to approve uncooperative suppliers?

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 03:45 PM

Looking for advise on obtaining the require information from my suppliers. I'm having trouble getting them to work with me to complete a short questionnaire and get their required docs (food safety plan, 3rd party cert. etc...). They are generally large, global corporations that we purchase items from (sometime retail packages) however; they are reluctant to give use the required information. 


What if they never give us what we are asking? Are we still able to use them as an approved supplier? Are there steps we can take in lieu of our standard approved suppliers program that SQF will accept? 


Any input would be appreciated! 


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Posted 02 October 2017 - 06:01 PM

Make sure to amend your approval SOP mention that if the supplier possesses GFSI certification (Ex: SFQ Level 3) with an active certificate, then the supplier can be approved. Make sure to keep their certificate in records. 

Gerard H.

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 08:16 AM

Dear Shuster,


See, if they can send you their general Quality information. And if that covers your questionnaire, it should be OK. In case of missing information, I would call them to send an annex, stating the information which is necessary for the approval.


In some cases you can download the GFSI certificate from the supplier's website.


Further steps are depending about the Supplier risk (Low, medium or High) and if the raw material is strategic for your company.


Kind regards,


Gerard Heerkens


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Posted 03 October 2017 - 02:02 PM

Our company is both a customer and a supplier so we see the food safety work from both sides, so to speak.


As a supplier we find it really tiring and time consuming when our customers asks us to fill in several questionnaires (feels like thousands of pages, sometimes) and send in copies of our BRC/HACCP documents. This despite our BRC certification (and other certifications). Firstly, most of our documents are in Swedish, not many understands this language and translating everything is not an option. Secondly, we are annually audited by BRC auditors and external auditors (for internal audits) so we don't really have time for all our customers to perform audits every year as well, that's why BRC Global Standard exists, is it not? ;)

(of course, we still have customer visits and some even do smaller audits, but it's generally only key customers).



As a customer we have routines that if the supplier is certified according to a GFSI-approved standard only a handful of routine questions need to be filled in like company information, if allergens are handled, social responsibility etc. Things not normally covered by food safety standards. This along with copies of certificates, product specifications and CoA is the basis for our initial evaluation. After a year we re-evaluate after their performances, quality of products etc.


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Posted 03 October 2017 - 03:29 PM

Thanks TinaOlle!

I agree, all that should be needed is a BRC 3rd party certificate from the supplier, if they are certified (most everyone is). 


If I cannot get the required documents I will resort to completing a risk assessment and hazard analysis. 


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Posted 03 October 2017 - 07:40 PM

I feel both your pain and their pain.  We all have far too many customer questionnaires to fill in.  I really wish there was a GFSI standard questionnaire or questionnaires. 


So what we do is we always ask for GFSI certs and reports anyway irrespective of whether people will fill in our form or not and then if they do refuse I will look through their spec vs. my internal spec review (basically the same way I'd review our spec form if they'd filled it in).  The downside for them is more often than not I end up having to go back to them to say "you've not included this bit, can you give me a bit of info please?" so I'm not sure it really does save them much time really.


If they don't share a GFSI audit, unfortunately we are obligated by one of the retailer standards to audit them.  I (sometimes) find the threat of this makes people a little more forthcoming but we have found some people are a bit odd about it.  After all, if you're not prepared to share an audit report and would prefer it if a customer audited you directly instead?  For one that costs you and them more but also they may find a lot more stuff than the GFSI audit did!

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