IFS Food Standard
The IFS Food Standard is a common food safety and quality standard with a uniform evaluation system used to qualify and select suppliers. The objective is to build confidence in products and processes by ensuring safety, quality, legality and compliance with specified customer requirements.
Having a common standard and a uniform way to evaluate the quality level of suppliers reduces the need for second party audits. For retailers, manufacturers and suppliers, supply chain management becomes more consistent and efficient. It reduces the overall costs of the process, and increases the level of safety for customers, suppliers, and consumers.
While it may be a ticket to trade with retailers, it is also a chance for you to demonstrate your commitment to food safety, quality, and legality, and to work on continual improvement.
What is the IFS Food standard?
IFS Food is an international standard for assessing product and process compliance in relation to food safety and quality .
The IFS Food standard applies to suppliers at all steps of food processing subsequent to the agricultural stage. The requirements are related to the quality management system and the HACCP system (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points), supported by detailed prerequisite programmes, that is a set of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) and GHP (Good Hygiene Practice) requirements. IFS Food meets the criteria of the Global Food Safety Initiative by CIES.
Version 7 released
The new version of the standard recently released is mandatory for all companies from 1 July, 2021. Assessments to v.7 can be from 1 March, 2021. For already certified companies, transition to the new version will be executed at the next, upcoming assessment. View the main changes here.
Why is IFS certification good for my business?The most important European retailers require IFS Food certification from the suppliers that are included in their supply chain. But IFS Food is an international standard and can be applied to suppliers outside Europe as well. The standard enables your organisation to:
- Provide evidence of commitment, and, in case of a food safety incident, legal defense in the frame of the due diligence concept*
- Build and operate a management system capable of helping you to better meet food quality/safety requirements and legal compliance, with specific reference to the legislation applicable in the countries where the finished product is consumed
- Provide a tool for food safety performance improvement, and the means to monitor and measure food safety performance effectively
- Facilitate reductions in product waste, product reworking, and product recall
How can I prepare for certification?
Companies that plan well will often have an advantage and be better prepared for certification. It is important that you and your company are positive, committed, and set clear target dates for implementation and assessment.
- Establishing a quality management system
- Identifying legal requirements
- Identifying and documenting the specific food safety hazards and the relevant control measures (HACCP system)
- Identifying the applicable Good Manufacturing Practice/Good Hygiene Practice, including a pest control programme, equipment and building maintenance programme, housekeeping and cleaning programme, and all the specific standard requirements
- Implement any needed structural improvements
* The capability to be able to demonstrate that every reasonable measure has been taken to avoid an incident.
Main changes include improved clarity on expectations to auditors and more prescriptive requirements, which now incorporates food safety culture. A revised structure makes easier to work with the standard. The assessment checklist has been aligned with the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements version 2020.1, FSMA, and EU regulations. With version 7 more emphasis is placed in on-site evaluation rather than documentation and every third assessment will be unannounced. Main changes in Version 7:
- New wording: the audit becomes an assessment, to highlight the product and process approach of IFS in keeping with ISO/IEC 17065.
- 15 % less requirements
- Improved structure of the certification protocol tailored to the IFS stakeholders’ needs
- Better defined scoring system
- Clearly structured assessment report with standardized sections
- Every third IFS Food certification assessment will be unannounced
- Food Safety Culture has been incorporated into the requirements
- The new definitions on outsourcing clarify different management modalities
- A valid GLN (Global Location Number) becomes mandatory for suppliers in the European Economic Area (EEA) and United Kingdom
- Additional tools to support quality managers of certified companies, e. g. new e-learning courses, updated IFS auditXpressXTM Software and IFS Audit Manager
- App for internal auditing