By: Robert Garfield, Senior Vice President, Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI)
Chinese Year of the Monkey

According to the Chinese calendar, 2016 was the year of the monkey.  One could fairly say that there was a monkey on our stakeholders’ back this year, and its name was FSMA.  Sorting through FDA’s Final Rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is a time consuming, often frustrating and frequently confusing task.  To help SQFI stakeholders better understand the legal and regulatory complexities of FSMA, SQFI compiled a FSMA Resource page to assist our stakeholders as they worked toward compliance.  To further assist our stakeholders, a comparison analysis between the elements of SQF Level 2 Certification and the Final Preventive Controls for Human Food and Produce Safety rules was conducted.  Our analysis indicated that being SQF Level 2 certified provided a robust and solid starting point on the arduous journey of complying with the FSMA final rules.   SQFI also developed a voluntary Preventive Controls audit checklist and a complementary guidance document to assist stakeholders with identifying the necessary steps to bridge any gaps between a company’s SQF Program and the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule.

This year, SQFI strengthened its technological proficiency by developing a new database program with our new IT partner, ReposiTrak.  The new database introduced a number of enhancements including a robust reporting system that permits stakeholders to sort data based on facility performance.  The enhanced features of the database augments SQFI’s ability to monitor certification body (CB) and auditor performance, while providing additional value to retailers and buyers by enabling them to better track the audit performance of their suppliers.  Moreover, the expanded data access further strengthened SQFI’s compliance and integrity programs, a crucial component in the continuous improvement of food safety and quality management systems.

SQFI 2017 Conference2016 was a record breaking year regarding attendance at the SQF International Conference.  SQFI joined forces with the FMI Food Safety group to demonstrate our 365-degree, farm-to-fork food safety management system. This year’s SQF Conference featured a dedicated retail food safety track that provided updates on retail food safety issues, encouraged dialogue between retailers and suppliers, and communicated best practices and food safety solutions for retail operation of all sizes.  Additionally, SQF Conference participants received a preview of the benefits of Edition 8 of the SQF Code including our Retail/Wholesale Grocery Program- scheduled for rollout in late March of 2017.  We are happy to announce that FMI Food Safety will be a part of the program for the 2017 SQF Conference, so plan now to join us in Dallas, TX, November 5-7, 2017!

We look forward to 2017, the Chinese year of the rooster, and anticipate fulfilling the characteristics of that dawn announcing creature by continuing our hard work, resourcefulness and passion to be the single most trusted source for global food safety and quality certification. Visit for more information.

Photo Credit: Epic Fireworks via Flickr