A Methodical Approach to Preparing for an SQF Food Safety Audit

In this video, Michael Kalish provides a quick overview of Food Safety Guides’ “Blueprinting” process, in which a conformance plan is architected for the SQF Code.

The initial stage of the SQF planning process serves to create a comprehensive conformance plan. As documentation is charted, a Document Register (i.e. a list of all documents in the SQF food safety management system) ought to be maintained concurrently to ensure that all files (and their status) are documented. The process is summarized by the (5) steps provided below:

  1. Download the SQF audit checklist. Visit SQFI.com, select “Resource Center” to pull down a list of options. Select “Audit Checklists”.

  2. Open checklist in google drive. Upload the excel-formatted checklist into Google Drive and convert into a Google Sheet. This will make the checklist a real-time collaboration tool, allowing for your team to participate in the planning process.

  3. Add columns for conformance evidence. The (3) primary file types for an SQF food safety management system are: Policies, Procedures & Forms. Make a column for each type, then make a 4th column, “Other”, for additional file types (e.g. Lists, letters and schedules). These (4) columns will break up the conformance evidence for each requirement into fundamental categories, making the spreadsheet easier to read. Update the Document Register whenever new files are listed. NOTE: Development of content (beyond document title names) is not advisable during the planning stage, as it slows down the planning process and risks generating redundancy.

  4. Add columns for accountability information. These columns include: “Notes”, “To Do”, “Responsible”, and “Status”.

    1. “Notes” column: Write all important FYI information related to conformance. For example, if it is important to know that a policy is posted in a specific part of the facility, this would be the column to note it.

    2. “To Do” column: Describe the conformance task in detail. For example, “Create policy in folder ‘x’ using template ‘y’, create content and review with SQF practitioner. Post in break room once signed by CEO.”

    3. “Responsible” column: Record the name of the individual responsible for overseeing conformance development activities associated with this requirement (i.e. row).

    4. “Status” column: Indicate whether the conformance evidence is: “Done”, “To Do” or “n/a”.

  5. Add columns for project performance trending information. These columns include: “Points” and “Week Done”. These columns are optional, but provide for effective (and efficient) use of data. The number of points associated with each requirement indicates the size of the conformance task. We use the Fibonacci sequence (1,2,3,5,8,13,21), as these numbers are distinct enough to make attribution easy. The total number of points for the project, when compared to (i) the sum of points left “To Do” and (ii) sum of points “Done” each week, can be used to visualize speed, extrapolate a finish date and communicate progress (and resource needs) to senior management (See below).

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Need help charting your conformance evidence? Or just need assistance in managing the project? We can help! Contact us at info@foodsafetyguides.com or select a time to chat with one of our consultants and trainers.

-MK