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Learn about SQF Certification

Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certification.

SQF certification from LRQA helps demonstrate achievement of a rigorous, credible approach to food safety management that is recognized by the GFSI as well as retailers and food service providers around the world.

SQF Certification

  • SQF is managed by the Safety Quality Food Institute (SQFi), a division of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and is the largest GFSI-recognized food safety certification program in the United States and Canada. The SQF certification program is on its 9th Edition.
  • SQF certification is recognized around the world and food & beverage manufacturing, packaging and storage & distribution companies choose SQF because it helps demonstrate food safety assurance to retailers and service providers as verifiable proof that robust food safety control systems are in place to help protect consumers, brands and supply chains.
  • The SQF Edition 9 certification program promotes safe quality food from farm to fork and is comprised of:
    • SQF Food Safety Fundamentals (formerly SQF Level 1) – introductory food safety designed for small and developing food businesses
    • SQF Food Safety Code for Primary Production (formerly SQF Level 2) – includes livestock and animals, dairy farming and egg production (module 5); farming of aquaculture and RTE seafood (module 6); growing and production of fresh and RTE produce and nuts (module 7); agriculture operations (module 8)
    • SQF Food Safety Code for Food Retail – includes food catering, food service, food retail (module 15)
    • SQF Food Safety Code for Manufacturing (formerly SQF Level 2) – includes pet food (module 4); red meat and poultry (module 9); fresh produce and nuts (module 10); manufactured meats and poultry processing, dairy food, egg, bakery and snack, food ingredient, cereal and grains, beverage, recipe meals, confectionary, fruit/veg/nut/juice processing, etc (module 11)
    • SQF Food Safety Code for Manufacture of Food Packaging (formerly SQF Level 2) – module 13
    • SQF Food Safety Code for Storage and Distribution (formerly SQF Level 2) – module 12
    • SQF Quality Code (formerly SQF Level 3) – food quality standard for sites already certified to SQF.

What’s new in SQF Edition 9?

Since May 24, 2021, all initial certification audits, recertification and unannounced re-certification audits must be delivered against the SQF Code Edition 9. Some of the main changes include:

  • Scoring changed from 10 points for a major nonconformity to 5 points
  • Includes the option for remote activities
  • The addition of a food safety culture requirement

Contact us to find out more about SQF Edition 9 requirements.

What are the benefits?

  • SQF Gap Analysis and Pre-Assessment

We provide an SQF gap analysis before your official SQF audit and certification, during which an LRQA food safety assessor will review how your system has addressed, or plans to address, the requirements of the SQF standard. It will give your organization the opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have about your system, or the SQF assessment process, with us. The gap analysis does not result in certification, but instead helps identify any weaknesses before the actual SQF certification audit takes place.

  • SQF Audit and Certification

At LRQA, we specialize in helping to provide food safety assurance across the food supply chain. Our SQF audits and certification will help assure your organization is delivering safety quality food no matter where you are in the food supply chain. Once your organization has successfully completed an SQF audit and technical approval is given, you will be awarded SQF certification, providing credibility for your stakeholders through the globally recognized LRQA brand.

  • Customized Assurance and Second Party Assessments

In addition to being certified to a GFSI-recognized food safety standard, many customers may also require assessment against their own company-specific standard or criteria.

We can help to combine your SQF certification with a second party, company-specific or customized assurance program. In addition, if your organization needs help to develop its own solution, we can work with you, delivering value by understanding your assurance needs, expectations and requirements. We’ll then work together to assure you have the right program in place to meet these assurance needs, identifying a suitable approach to assessment, criteria, methodology and reporting.

  • Beyond Food Safety

Don’t let your certification journey stop with food safety. We deliver certification, validation and verification assessment services to all of the world’s leading standards and schemes including quality, health and safety, environmental, sustainability, energy management, business continuity, cyber security and many more.

Why choose LRQA?

We are at the forefront of food safety standards development. We support the GFSI and as a market leader and highly recognized and trusted provider of food safety assurance, certification and training for decades, and we serve over 33,000 food and drink organizations around the world.

  • Knowledge and experience – our SQF and GFSI food safety teams understands the complex nature of food safety requirements. We have proven experience supporting clients across the supply chain with GFSI, FSMA and customized assurance programs to help assure food safety and quality.
  • Food safety experts – our SQF auditors are trained specialists and second to none. Our assessors are required to meet some of the highest qualifications in the industry, and all have extensive experience working across the food and drink supply chain.
  • Licensed and accredited – LRQA is independently accredited for SQF, FSSC 22000, BRC, ISO 22000 and HACCP.
  • Robust, risk-based approach – our team of experts know the SQF requirements inside and out and are therefore best suited to assess your system with a robust riskbased approach to help protect your brand and reputation. We focus on the areas that matter most and which often present the highest risks for your organization. We provide thorough assessments that help build confidence with your customers and key stakeholders.
  • Proven client experience and account management – in addition to SQF, we offer a full food safety assurance portfolio, including BRC and FSSC 22000 - browse now.

Contact us to learn more about SQF certification.

How we can help

From independent third-party inspection, certification and auditing; to training and technical advisory services; to real-time assurance technology; to data-driven supply chain transformation, our innovative end-to-end solutions help our clients negotiate a rapidly changing risk landscape – making sure they’re shaping their own future, rather than letting it shape them.


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