Many small businesses are unaware of the SQF Fundamentals program and how it can benefit their sales. Essentially, SQF Fundamentals allows food industry entrepreneurs and small-to-medium primary producers to expand their marketplace while also placing themselves on the road to full GFSI certification. As stated by the SQF Institute:
Built as a step-wise approach, The SQF Fundamentals Program is designed to help you integrate robust food safety standards into your existing practices, while creating a pathway to achieving globally accepted GFSI certification.
In short, SQF Fundamentals is a robust starter program for food-related businesses that are not yet ready to step up to a more rigorous full SQF certification. It comes in two flavors – basic and intermediate. Achieving a SQF Fundamentals certificate requires less of a financial investment and is quicker to achieve than the full GFSI-approved SQF certification process.
What are the Benefits of Achieving a SQF Fundamentals Certificate?
Acquiring an SQF Fundamentals certificate (and yes, you do actually receive a certificate!) for your business demonstrates a commitment to food safety that builds on a HACCP Plan. It also positions your business to better pursue a full GFSI-compliant SQF certification at a future date.
Will a SQF Fundamentals Certificate Satisfy Retailer and Distributor Food Safety Requirements?
Well, it depends on the retailer or distributor. Some will; some won’t. It certainly puts your business ahead of other similar-sized organizations that are competing for their attention. We suggest discussing this with prospective retailers and distributors in advance.
How can your Organization get Trained?
The SQF Institute is using a three pronged approach to address the learning and access needs of various Fundamentals audiences:
- Online course (focus is on the Intermediate Level)
- Paper-based, self-directed learning tools
- Instructor-led training by approved licensed trainers
Where can I get more Information about SQF Fundamentals?
The SQF Institute has an abundance of free information about the SQF Fundamentals program. Here is a good overview of the SQF Fundamentals program with downloadable brochures and videos.
Can I Use a Consultant to Help my Organization Achieve a SQF Fundamentals Certificate?
Yes. Using an experienced SQF consultant familiar with the Fundamentals program can save you time and money. A consultant will help you navigate the process and prepare for the certification audit. Consultants can leverage their experience and knowledge to expedite achieving a SQF Fundamentals certificate.
The Bottom Line for Food Manufacturers and Primary Producers
SQF Fundamentals is an affordable “half-way” step for small-to-intermediate food manufacturers and primary distributors to get a leg up on competitors and broaden their marketplace. And if you have a HACCP Plan already in place, it is a logical investment to gain more market acceptance. Plus, it puts your business on the road to a full GFSI-approved food safety certification that opens a world-wide market for your products or services.