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Alternatives to SQF that are more friendly for small biz


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#1 gregd

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 02:16 AM

Hi,

 

I work in a small dry powder blending operation (<20 employees including adminstrative, sales and operations). We are currently SQF certified but it's very burdensome with the amount of documentation and record-keeping required. We currently have one full-time SQF practitioner who's leaving soon.

 

We are SQF certified because some of our customers require it. I was wondering if there are other standards outside of SQF that are more small-business friendly, meaning that they don't require as many financial and staffing resources as SQF. This would allow us to utilize our next hire for other QA & administrative tasks outside of purely just SQF administration. We feel we may be able to persuade our customers to accept a standard other than SQF as they have been open when we casually floated the idea by them.

 

 

Thank you

 



#2 Charles.C

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 03:22 AM

Hi,

 

I work in a small dry powder blending operation (<20 employees including adminstrative, sales and operations). We are currently SQF certified but it's very burdensome with the amount of documentation and record-keeping required. We currently have one full-time SQF practitioner who's leaving soon.

 

We are SQF certified because some of our customers require it. I was wondering if there are other standards outside of SQF that are more small-business friendly, meaning that they don't require as many financial and staffing resources as SQF. This would allow us to utilize our next hire for other QA & administrative tasks outside of purely just SQF administration. We feel we may be able to persuade our customers to accept a standard other than SQF as they have been open when we casually floated the idea by them.

 

 

Thank you

 

In UK Salsa would be one alternative but I doubt this active in USA.

 

Primus might be one GFSI-recognized Standard which is less "concentrated" than SQF (just speculating).

 

No doubt the consultants on this forum will have a few ideas ?


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#3 SQFconsultant

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 03:32 AM

Well, I am not sure why it is so burdensome, but you do have to have a Practitioner as well as a cover for that person. However,  SQF does not dictate that as a single title - in many small to mid-size operations most people wear a number of hats anyway.

 

I actually can not think of an easier program to run than SQF, yes bias as I've been an SQF Auditor and SQF Consultant for years now, however  with the use of a simple electronic system such as SQF Sentinel you would find much greater ease and a lot less time spent on the program than having to push paper.


Kind regards,

 

Glenn Oster
 
 
GOC GROUP / +1.800.793.7042 / Food - Food Packaging - Food Storage/DC

SQF, BRC & IFS System Development, Implementation & Certification Consultants

Serving Small-to-Mid-Size Businesses | International Cross-Border C-CUR Acceptance

Internal Auditor Training | eConsultant | SQF, BRC & IFS Pre-Development or Pre-Audit GAP

http://www.GlennOsterConsulting.com  -- 

 

 

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#4 Scampi

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 01:50 PM

I agree with Glenn.....having used others, SQF is the most business friendly

 

Without having seen your program, I'm going to suggest your previous SQFP has made your program over burdensome as a CYA move

 

When i joined current company, previous SQFP didn't have enough experience to challenge the program OR know what to blend together, remove etc etc.....as a result, the program here is know 1/2 as long as it was before

 

We are also a similar sized company, and I am also responsible for lots of other functions.


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#5 kfromNE

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 03:56 PM

I agree with the above recommendations. We currently have a in place a AIB GMP audit while in the process of moving to SQF in the next few years. I'm working on writing our policies as we speak. We too are a small company with less than 20 employees. While customers have accepted our AIB GMP audit, to stay competitive and bid for contracts, we need SQF certification. Like Scampi and Glenn mentioned, I and most of the employees working wear many hats. I jokingly and still might put in our SQF manual job title definitions for example: For Document purposes: the SQF Manager, SQF Practitioner, PCQI, HACCP Coordinator, Food Safety Director = the same person.

 

Of where the US is heading more specifically if you want to supply the giant companies like Walmart, Target or major food manufacturers, you're going to need to be certified in a major GFSI scheme. As of right now in the USA in regards to foods, that would be SQF.

 

Caveat - the AIB GMP audit still requires documentation and record keeping and the audit is thorough. But from what I'm seeing as I'm writing our SQF policies (Section 2 - 90% done and Section 11 - not started yet), my SQF binder is a lot bigger.

 

Good luck in whatever you decide.



#6 SQFconsultant

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 04:16 PM

Always be careful of overwriting an SQF program, we see this a lot in both consulting and prior in audits.

 

Coming from a AIB audit there is evidence for overwriting -- keep it simple and uniform and you will breeze it, the auditor will appreciate not being snowed as well.

 

My personal suggest as a long term consultant that specializes in writing SQF systems in about 30 days is to build your food safety management system documentation base loosely based on SQF - more so on general FSMS if you plan on taking a couple of years to get to SQF certification - because it will drive you crazy to make numerous changes every year with updates, then within the year you are going to go for SQF you take your documentation and convert it easily to the current standard code. That way if you do it DIY you are writing the system based a current requirements of the code and within the same year.

 

I've had more than a handful of people telling me they have spent years writing their SQF program and then finding out we can do one in about a month and hand off for implementation they first go - no way, but we do it over and over again and keep it simple and find out that no way is the way we go.


Kind regards,

 

Glenn Oster
 
 
GOC GROUP / +1.800.793.7042 / Food - Food Packaging - Food Storage/DC

SQF, BRC & IFS System Development, Implementation & Certification Consultants

Serving Small-to-Mid-Size Businesses | International Cross-Border C-CUR Acceptance

Internal Auditor Training | eConsultant | SQF, BRC & IFS Pre-Development or Pre-Audit GAP

http://www.GlennOsterConsulting.com  -- 

 

 

URGENT - Mission Critical - Only 245,000 to go!

https://bit.ly/3kBj997

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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#7 Scampi

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 04:51 PM

Another thing to bear in mind re: SQF or any of the others, is that documentation wise may seem like wayyyyyy more than necessary, but the vast majority of it are programs and policies, not necessarily day to day paperwork. They are important to have if the s*** hits the fan because they will tell you what to do and how to do it

 

So things like a visitor policy, if you only have 2 visitors a year, the rest of the time the policy hangs on the wall, or in a binder and only comes out to see the light of day when it's annual reassessment time

 

The KISS idea needs to be used....and edit edit edit


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#8 mgourley

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 10:05 PM

FSSC 22000

 

Marshall



#9 gregd

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 03:46 AM

however  with the use of a simple electronic system such as SQF Sentinel you would find much greater ease and a lot less time spent on the program than having to push paper.

 

Your suggestion to look at software solutions is a good one.

 

However, I would never use SQF Sentinel or another program by Focus Works every again. We had paid them a large sum of money to for their PRIMS manufacturing execution software about two years ago, including very expensive visit for training and implementation. The software has been nothing but problematic unable to perform any of the functionality. The visit for training and implementation that we paid $5k for was moot because the software crashed every time an item was weighed on the scale and then the the packaging interface they set up sometimes doubled, sometimes tripled the amount of inventory it used for a batch. These are problems they haven't been able to fix even to this day.

 

Not to mention the fields cannot support more than 18 characters and all the font is in 6pt font and non-adjustable.

 

The company's founder and CEO, Bob White is chasing his Bitcoin dream, leaving the company with no leadership and buggy, barely functioning product that never gets serviced.

 

When I calculate all the administrative costs that went into implementation for a nonfunctioning product we're at over $50k and still left with nothing but frustration.

 

So no thanks. If you can't tell by my vitriol I would never recommend anyone buy SQF Sentinel, PRIMS or any other software from Focus Works.

 

I have found others including SafeFood360, ComplianceMate, Vittles, FoodLogiQ, and SafetyChain that I'm looking at.



#10 SQFconsultant

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 07:56 PM

Your suggestion to look at software solutions is a good one.

 

However, I would never use SQF Sentinel or another program by Focus Works every again. We had paid them a large sum of money to for their PRIMS manufacturing execution software about two years ago, including very expensive visit for training and implementation. The software has been nothing but problematic unable to perform any of the functionality. The visit for training and implementation that we paid $5k for was moot because the software crashed every time an item was weighed on the scale and then the the packaging interface they set up sometimes doubled, sometimes tripled the amount of inventory it used for a batch. These are problems they haven't been able to fix even to this day.

 

Not to mention the fields cannot support more than 18 characters and all the font is in 6pt font and non-adjustable.

 

The company's founder and CEO, Bob White is chasing his Bitcoin dream, leaving the company with no leadership and buggy, barely functioning product that never gets serviced.

 

When I calculate all the administrative costs that went into implementation for a nonfunctioning product we're at over $50k and still left with nothing but frustration.

 

So no thanks. If you can't tell by my vitriol I would never recommend anyone buy SQF Sentinel, PRIMS or any other software from Focus Works.

 

I have found others including SafeFood360, ComplianceMate, Vittles, FoodLogiQ, and SafetyChain that I'm looking at.

Sorry to hear that about SQF Sentinel, we have several clients using it and none have issues.  I took a look at SafetyChain and it seems to have way to many extras that need to be paid for.  FoodLogicQ however is one under review now.


Kind regards,

 

Glenn Oster
 
 
GOC GROUP / +1.800.793.7042 / Food - Food Packaging - Food Storage/DC

SQF, BRC & IFS System Development, Implementation & Certification Consultants

Serving Small-to-Mid-Size Businesses | International Cross-Border C-CUR Acceptance

Internal Auditor Training | eConsultant | SQF, BRC & IFS Pre-Development or Pre-Audit GAP

http://www.GlennOsterConsulting.com  -- 

 

 

URGENT - Mission Critical - Only 245,000 to go!

https://bit.ly/3kBj997

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

#11 LostMyMind

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Posted 01 May 2019 - 09:28 PM

Some random advice.  Not sure if it would be useful.  We've investigated switching schemes and it seemed a very mixed ball of wax because of the added work in switching without any guarantee of "gains" (time/money/effort).  

 

Prior to Switching:

1.) I would first investigate what your clients allow, since sometimes they don't accept any GFSI scheme, just specific ones, and you might be limiting yourself unintentionally.  

2.) Carefully consider the cost of switching in terms of time, rewriting policies, etc.  Depending upon how your food safety management system is set up (written), that could be significant.  

3.) Don't forget the cost of retraining employees.

4.) Time the switch, since you would likely have to conduct a full review of your existing structure, and make sure that you have enough data/forms to satisfy your new requirements.

 

 

If you switch:

I would suggest removing yourself from being directly "tied" to the audit scheme if you are.  What I mean is, I see a lot of issues with being so tied to the scheme that you mirror their numbering logic, write policies solely to match the scheme's requirements, etc.  I saw that when I came to my current employer and it caused a lot of issues.  To me, I would rather write an actual food safety management system based upon relevant laws (aka the FDA, etc.) and add in what you might need in order to meet requirements for a scheme.  Audit schemes love to update themselves (how they sell themselves) and so the more closely tied you are to a specific version of a specific scheme, the harder it is to change.  I also personally think that focusing on the audit scheme and not actual food safety (that a scheme should then evaluate) is detrimental.  I've seen too many cases where people "ramp up" for a once a year audit versus doing (the right) things daily.     

 

For us, we grow and fresh-pack citrus and have been a Primus client for a decade now - because it meets our clients' audit requirements.  It's got some stupid "audit for audit sake" requirements, but it's like any other scheme in that fashion.  The key to me is whether you can get a good auditor - someone who is focused on actual possible food safety issues and less concerned whether a form meets the various 5,000 different little check boxes.  

 

I've looked into what options are out there for us, but outside of the USDA's Gap Plus (GFSI equivalent), I've not seen anything significantly better or worse.  The USDA version doesn't seem to have gotten a lot of acceptance within the client base as yet, so I don't see it as an option right now.  That scheme appears, at first cut, to be a lot less paperwork, but if the clients won't accept it, it's for naught. 

 

Anyway, IMO, the devil you know is often better than the devil you don't. 

 

Good luck,

Todd

 

 

Hi,

 

I work in a small dry powder blending operation (<20 employees including adminstrative, sales and operations). We are currently SQF certified but it's very burdensome with the amount of documentation and record-keeping required. We currently have one full-time SQF practitioner who's leaving soon.

 

We are SQF certified because some of our customers require it. I was wondering if there are other standards outside of SQF that are more small-business friendly, meaning that they don't require as many financial and staffing resources as SQF. This would allow us to utilize our next hire for other QA & administrative tasks outside of purely just SQF administration. We feel we may be able to persuade our customers to accept a standard other than SQF as they have been open when we casually floated the idea by them.

 

 

Thank you

 






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