Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certification

GFSI-Level Food Safety Management System

What is Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certification?

The Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program, based on the HACCP codex is a rigorous and credible food safety and quality program that is recognized by retailers, brand owners, and food service providers world-wide. Primary producers, manufacturers, processors, and retailers can all participate in this world-class, GFSI-benchmarked certification. In addition to SQF Food Safety, SCS also offers SQF Fundamentals, a non-GSFI level program for small and medium size food suppliers, and the SQF Quality Program for sites that go above and beyond SQF Food Safety by meeting the additional quality management system requirements of the Quality Code. These programs are designed to meet industry, customer, and regulatory requirements for all sectors of the food supply chain.

Why Choose SCS?

Companies of all sizes, from small and medium-sized operators to international companies, have chosen SCS as their certifier of choice. With nearly 40 years of HACCP food safety management and auditing experience, SCS Global Services provides expert SQF certification services. SCS also offers a wide range of food industry certifications and can help you earn recognition in multiple categories from safety to sustainability.

SCS provides:

  • Competitive pricing
  • Dedicated and responsive service team assigned to your account
  • Email and phone replies within 24 hours
  • Highly credentialed professional auditors
  • Regional auditor availability for most categories
  • Expedited scheduling
  • Bundled service discounts

SQF certification through SCS provides numerous benefits:

  • Limit Risk - Minimize the potential for food safety incidents and recalls.
  • Become a Preferred Supplier - Many retailers require SQF certification for their manufacturers and suppliers.
  • Competitive Edge - Assure your customers that food has been produced, processed, prepared and handled in accordance with rigorous standards.
  • Improvement over Time - Demonstrate continual improvements to quality and safety processes.
  • Professional service - SCS is known for our thorough and timely audits.
  • Combined services - Take advantage of our broad food and agriculture certification expertise, from safety to sustainability, to earn recognition for multiple achievements most cost-effectively.
  • Program Details
  • Process
  • Training
  • FAQs
  • Program Documents

SQF is designed for use by all sectors of the food industry, from primary production, manufacturing, and processing to transport, storage, distribution and retailing. The current standard applies to all industry sectors. Go to

Certification Criteria

SQF is a HACCP-based standard for control of food quality and food safety. The scope of SQF certification is site- and product-specific. Compliance with the following mandatory system elements is required for certification: management commitment, document control and records, specification and product development, food safety fundamentals and plans, SQF system verification, product identification, trace, withdrawal and recall, food defense, identity preserved foods, and training.

Certification Levels

SCS can help you pursue the appropriate level of SQF certification. GFSI recognizes Food Safety Code and Quality Code certificates:

  • Food Safety Fundamentals: Entry level for new and developing businesses covering only GAP/GMP/GDP requirements and basic food safety elements.
  • Food Safety Code: Recognizes suppliers that have implemented a HACCP food safety plan in addition to meeting fundamental requirements.
  • Quality Code: Recognizes suppliers that have implemented a HACCP-based food quality plan in addition to food safety code system elements.

Audits are required every 6-12 months to maintain certification; frequency is based on the audit score rating.


SCS can walk you through a pre-assessment process. Pre-assessment is a non-scored mock audit designed to assess the level of your preparedness for a certification audit. Ask about combining a pre-assessment with your initial audit for greater efficiency.

  1. Apply for Auditing

    Fill out an SCS Application form. This provides us with the details of your site and operation. SCS returns a proposal for your approval with a suggested scope of work, timeline, and quote. To initiate the certification process, return a signed Work Order, and register and select SCS with SQF in their online assessment database.

  2. Schedule the Audit

    SCS assigns an auditor and audit dates are proposed. Once an audit date is confirmed, an audit plan is provided to ensure that your team is prepared.

  3. On-Site Audit

    An on-site audit of your operation is carried out to ensure that your operation complies with the SQF Standard. A team meeting is required at the beginning and the end of the audit. At the conclusion of the audit, the auditor explains the audit results, including any non-conformities.

  4. Complete Corrective Actions and Technical Review

    Identified non-conformities must be addressed and evidence of correction provided to SCS within 30 days. The auditor reviews and closes out non-conformities as warranted. Once this process is complete, the auditors submit an audit report.

  5. Make Certification Decision

    SCS conducts a final technical review of the audit report and Corrective Action documentation, then makes the final certification decision.

  6. Receive Certificate

    If certification is granted, SCS issues the certificate and final report to the facility/operation and sends a copy to the SQFI, and your company is listed in the SQFI Directory.

SCS is an SQF Training Center offering a full line-up of food safety training solutions in a variety of formats including live and online self-paced trainings delivered by experienced industry professionals. Private onsite trainings and webinars can be customized for your company, saving time and expense.

Do you meet the SQF Practitioner requirements? 

  1. Full-time employee able manage the SQF System?
  2. Completed a sixteen hour examinable HACCP course? View Course Or, earn a HACCP certificate while fulfilling FSMA requirements View Course
  3. Understand the SQF Code and are able to implement and maintain the SQF System.
    Register for the Implementing SQF Systems course and prepare! View Course

Does fulfilling the requirements make me a Practitioner?
No, a person must be appointed Practitioner by their company.

Learn more about SQF training Here

Additional recommended training for SQF

Horario de cursos ofrecidos en México - HACCP, SQF, GLOBALG.A.P.
Horario de cursos ofrecidos en los Estados Unidos.

How does SQF differ from other food safety certification programs?

SQF is the only GFSI-recognized standard that incorporates a QUALITY certification component. SQF is also the only program, recognized by GFSI that is headquartered outside of Europe. SQF improves process management by helping to proactively identify and manage risk so as to avoid stock recoveries, market withdrawals and rework.

How much does SQF certification cost?

There are several costs associated with becoming SQF certified, including registration with the SQF database, the certification audit, and SQF Practitioner training (optional). Fees vary somewhat depending on the extent of your operations. Contact your SCS representative, Bernadette Goldstein, [email protected], 510.452.6825, to discuss pricing details.

How far in advance should I schedule my audit?

Due to the growing demand for SQF certification, please be prepared to schedule an audit at least 2-3 months in advance.

What is a food sector category (FSC)?

An FSC, or food sector category, is a food industry classification established by SQF. Determine your company's classification by viewing the listing of SQF Food Sector Categories.

Where can I find the self-assessment checklist?

The SQF self-assessment checklist is available on the SQF website.

What is a SQF practitioner and how can I become one?

An SQF practitioner is an individual designated by a supplier to develop, validate, verify, implement and maintain a supplier SQF System. As a part of each audit, SCS verifies that the SQF practitioner meets the following requirements:

  1. Employed full time at the supplier company with the responsibility of managing the suppliers' SQF System
  2. Completed a HACCP training course, and has experience and competency in implementing and maintaining HACCP-based food safety plans
  3. Understands the SQF Code and the requirements to implement and maintain SQF systems relevant to the Suppliers Scope of Certification. Implementing the SQF Systems online with its examination fulfills this requirement.
How long does an audit take?

This depends on the nature and size of the organization and the level of certification requested. For example, a vegetable growing and packing audit at SQF Food Safety Fundamentals may take less than one day, whereas a complex manufacturing facility audit at SQF Food Safety and Quality Code may take 2-3 days to complete.

Once certified, can I use the SQF logo? If so, what are the rules and restrictions?

Food Safety and Quality Code certified companies are granted authorization to use of the SQFI logo on any internal materials. The SQF logo can be obtained from SQFI at [email protected]

Food Quality Code certified companies are additionally granted permission to use of the SQF logo (the SQF shield) on any products and marketing materials. The SQF logo can be obtained from SCS upon completion of your audit.

File Name Document
SQF Standards Visit Site

Apply Now

Ready to start the process? Complete an Application.

Bernadette Goldstein