WASHINGTON, DC — December 14, 2004 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has selected the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to accredit the certification bodies that audit suppliers under FMI’s Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program. This new partnership is designed to help strengthen food safety procedures and improve quality for consumers.

In a pilot initiative with FMI, ANSI will help ensure that auditing organizations are legal entities, independent and free of conflicts of interest, employ qualified people, have proper oversight and otherwise comply with the requirements of Guide 65 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

“Accreditation provides the necessary additional oversight of the certification and auditing function,” said Paul Ryan, executive director of the SQF Institute, the FMI division that administers the program. “If a food safety certification program is going to have credibility and be internationally recognized, it must have an accreditation component.

“Through our partnership with ANSI, the U.S. now has a system in place for meeting this requirement. FMI is pleased that ANSI has agreed to provide an accreditation service for its SQF certification bodies.”

“ANSI brings worldwide credibility, a knowledgeable and professional staff and a long history of accreditation activities similar to our new partnership with the SQF Institute,” said Reinaldo Figueiredo, ANSI program director of product certification accreditation. “We look forward to working with FMI to encourage participation by certifiers in this program.”

Seven certification bodies already have expressed strong interest in participating in this program.

The SQF Program is a fully integrated food safety and quality management system that enables a food supplier to ensure that its products have been produced, prepared, transported, stored and handled according to the most rigorous international standards. The program has established standards for both third-party auditing and training.

SQF certification is the most important feature of the program. It ensures that suppliers use the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system, a science-based method used by the food industry worldwide to minimize food safety risks. The SQF Program outlines safety and quality requirements for all food commodities, including raw materials and ingredients, processed and prepared foods and beverages — from grains, produce and meat to canned goods, fruit juices and sushi.

Currently 4,000 businesses in 17 countries have been certified as complying with SQF standards.