TasteWorks receives a perfect score
After months of intensive preparation, TasteWorks Flavors recently completed its second annual Safe Quality Food (“SQF”) audit. As with the company’s first SQF audit last year, we received a perfect score: 100 out of 100. This is a remarkable achievement, particularly for a company of less than two dozen employees. The score demonstrates the high level of commitment, competence, and consistency of TasteWork’s food safety and manufacturing personnel.
All food manufacturers in the United States are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), and are required to abide by minimum safety standards in the manufacturing of food products. FDA investigations are typically rare, however, which allows many smaller manufacturers to fly under the radar.
SQF is a food safety system created and managed by the SQF Institute, which aims to certify suppliers and businesses in the food industry that comply with SQF standards. SQF standards are typically higher than the “Good Manufacturing Practices” (“GMPs”) mandated by the FDA. An SQF audit is an intensive process, diving deep into a company’s policies, procedures, practices, and effectiveness of its food safety protocols. SQF certification is entirely voluntary and, given its rigor, is often avoided by smaller food companies.
Commitment to Food Safety
TasteWorks decided to pursue SQF certification in order to demonstrate our rigorous ongoing commitment to food safety. The first step in the process was to designate an SQF Practitioner, who was a suitably qualified employee responsible for overseeing the development, implementation, review, and maintenance of the SQF system. In most large companies, this role is filled by one individual, with another acting as their backup. TasteWorks took the extraordinary step of training and certifying five different employees in SQF standards and protocols, to ensure the entire organization was committed to food safety.
TasteWorks’ Food Safety System
The next step was documenting TasteWork’s food safety system, which involved preparing the policies, procedures, work instructions, and specifications that met the system elements and industry practices requirements of the SQF Code. TasteWorks follows a simple mantra with regards to its policies and procedures: our policies “say what we do” and our procedures “do what we say.” This allowed us to avoid pitfalls faced by many companies with overly complicated policies that fail to reflect actual practices, or procedures that fail to match up with company policies. From management on down, the entire organization was committed to ensuring our food safety system was both effective and realistic.
Day of the SQF Audit
The final step was to undergo the SQF audit, which was conducted by a qualified and registered SQF food safety auditor or audit team. The audit consisted of two stages: a desk audit and a site audit. The desk audit was a review of the documentation of the SQF system, while the site audit was a verification of the implementation and effectiveness of the SQF system. The site audit itself lasted multiple days, and went through every aspect of TasteWork’s flavor manufacturing process, from flavor inception, to formulation, to production, to packaging, to shipping. No stone was left unturned.
At the end of the day, TasteWorks received a perfect score of 100 on the SQF audit on our first try. This is an exceedingly rare and impressive achievement – generally, even 10 deductions will still warrant a “high pass.” TasteWorks received no deductions. TasteWorks also maintained its perfect score for their recertification audit the next year, which showed that we were able to sustain their high standards of food safety and quality. The company attributed their success to their dedicated and skilled staff, their clear and concise documentation, their rigorous and reliable implementation, and their continuous improvement and monitoring of their SQF system.