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2.3.4 Contract Manufacturers
What the SQF Code says
18.104.22.168 The methods and responsibility for ensuring all agreements relating to customer product requirements
and its realization and delivery are specified and agreed shall be documented and implemented.
22.214.171.124 The site shall:
i. Ensure that the processes in place at the contract manufacturer are capable of consistently
meeting customer requirements, or corporate quality requirements where applicable;
ii. Verify compliance with the SQF Quality Code and that all customer requirements are being met at
iii. Audit the contract manufacturer annually at a minimum to confirm compliance to the SQF Quality
Code and agreed arrangements, or accept the manufacturer’s certification
to the SQF Quality
Code or equivalent; and
iv. Ensure changes to contractual agreements are approved by both parties, agreed with customers
where necessary, and communicated to relevant personnel.
126.96.36.199 Records of all contract reviews and changes to contractual agreements and their approvals extend to
2.3.4 Implementation Guidance
What does it mean?
Contract manufacturers are facilities that are contracted by the SQF certified site to produce, process, pack,
and/or store part of all of one or more products included in the site’s product scope. In some cases, a
product may be manufactured interchangeably on site and at a contracted facility. In other cases, a
contract manufacturer may only be used intermittently to fulfill or supplement the site’s production.
Whatever the situation, any contract facility used to manufacture, in part or in whole, an SQF certified
product MUST fulfill the same requirements as the SQF certified site. The responsibility for ensuring that
these conditions are met is part of the primary site’s SQF System.
What do I have to do?
The site must have a documented procedure detailing how they will ensure that product in the care of the contact
manufacturer meets their customer specifications and the requirements of the SQF Code. Control quality
management system in an external facility that is under different management is not an easy task. However, the
site must ensure that facilities selected to contract manufacturer are committed to meeting SQF System
requirements. This includes management commitment, pre-requisite programs, document control and records,
adhering to specifications, food quality plans and all other quality controls.
The site may simply require the contract manufacturer themselves to be independently SQF certified, or may
choose to control the conditions in the contract facility via sampling, testing, inspections and internal auditing. In
the latter case, a verification schedule, including a sampling plan and internal audit procedure must be included.
If the contract manufacturer is processing or packing high risk product on behalf of the site, then the contract
manufacturer must undergo an audit to the requirements of the SQF Code for the particular food sector category.
The audit may be conducted by the site, or by an independent third party agency, and must be conducted at least
annually. The audit does not necessarily require certification
but must confirm compliance to the requirements of
the SQF Code.
An annual SQF audit of the contract manufacturer does not replace the need for other regular checks and
inspections at regular intervals.
Any changes to customer specifications must be fully documented. Procedures must include a communication
plan to contract manufacturer(s) with changes to specification identified. The site’s procedure must include
verification that the contract manufacturer is aware of the changes to specification and that product produced
after the change has been implemented reflects those required changes.
2.3.4 Auditing Guidance
The auditor will seek evidence of the existence of a documented arrangement binding the contract
manufacturer to the SQF Code and detailing the methods by which the site confirms those arrangements.
Evidence will be sought by interview, observation and review of records. Evidence may include:
• Review of the contract agreement and procedure for monitoring and verification of contracted
• Records of certification
, internal audits, product sampling and testing from contracted facilities.
• Records of SQF audits of facilities contracted to manufacture high risk food.
Note: in situations where the auditor feels that there is product risk from the contracted facility, the
auditor may require a visit to that facility to confirm compliance to the Code and the agreed arrangements.