IWI is among the first cold storage warehouses to achieve SQF Certification
Over the years, Interstate Warehousing has developed a comprehensive and holistic approach to food safety with multi-layered compliance and auditing elements built into our pre-requisite programs and GMP’s. Our Best Practices in the area of Food Defense and Food Safety were already well in line with the principal requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that was signed into law on January 4, 2011 which will require firms to develop and maintain specific pre-requisite programs.
The core elements of FSMA include:
- Hazard analysis and preventative controls for human food
- Preventative controls for animal feed
- Produce safety standards
- Foreign supplier verification
- Accredited third-party certification
A challenge for all firms, including us, is that the FDA has yet to finalize the rules. Fortunately, this is about to change as the United States District Court of Northern California issued a ruling in June of this year issuing “Injunctive Relief” for the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health whom both sued the FDA and it’s commissioner for failing to meet the congressionally-mandated deadline of July 2012 to issue core rules written into the FSMA.
As a result, the FDA must:
- Release all proposed FSMA regulations by November 30, 2013
- Public comments must be received by March 31, 2014
- Final regulations must be published in Federal Register no later than June 30, 2015
In response to FSMA, Interstate Warehousing began exploring ways to offer more value and assurances to its customers around process and food safety management. In doing so, we evaluated both the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Safe Quality Foods (SQF) food safety programs. Interstate Warehousing decided to seek a level 2 certification under the SQF Food Safety Program because many of our customers are SQF certified as well as participating members of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Our analysis also showed that the SQF code placed a stronger requirement on employee training, leading us to determine the SQF program is a better fit for our existing Food Safety and Best Practice policies.
SQF is an international standard of food safety which is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Developed and administered by FMI, SQF is being adopted as a platform for those manufacturers and retailers who require suppliers to have a comprehensive and credible food safety program.
- Recognized worldwide
- Provides a platform for consistent improvement in process quality and safety, saving processors valuable time and resources historically lost to multiple and conflicting audit standards
- Helps to protect a firm by focusing on risk assessment, hazard analysis and proactive prevention strategies
- Emphasizes employee training
- Addresses food safety requirements
- Provides a record and proof of due diligence
- Improves process management and is proactive in helping to identify and manage risk factors
- Complies with or exceeds regulatory requirements
- Makes it easier for buyers of goods or services to identify qualified suppliers
Recently, Interstate Warehousing’s Murfreesboro facility has become the first site in our network to seek and achieve SQF certification. IWI Murfreesboro’s SQF certification process will be immediately followed by our IWI Cincinnati location later this year. As we enter 2014, we plan to expand the certification process throughout our network of facilities.