Years ago, when things were a little simpler, our food came right from the land we lived on or from our neighbors down the road. You knew exactly where things came from and what you were getting. As populations grew in size and large groups of people moved to cities, the local supply of food had to be supplemented with food brought in from other places. We needed more. A lot more!
Today, our food comes from all around the world. It might be grown, raised or harvested down the road, across the country or on the other side of the ocean. It comes to us on boats, trains, planes and trucks. Then we fill our grocery carts with it and take it home to our families.
SQFI not only manages the SQF Program, but we also manage the SQFI Ethical Sourcing Program. We are bridging the gap and connecting the dots from how our food is grown, manufactured, processed, packed and shipped with making sure those actions are done ethically and sustainably.
In our “prosumer” world, consumers utilize their stake in the market to advocate for safer, better quality products and to dictate how those products are made. Scandals connected to forced labor, child labor, pollution and lack of corporate transparency directly impact the choices consumers make, which creates a ripple effect throughout the supply chain. The SQFI Ethical Sourcing Standard (ESS) effectively reduces these negative risks by addressing each of the above issues.
The ESS is a voluntary supplement for companies who are committed to ensuring socially and environmentally responsible practices in food production. The ESS is a system that combines growing and processing food with environmental and social stewardship. This system embraces ethical and transparent practices, with care taken in the treatment of those who grow, harvest, and manufacture food across the supply chain, and with respect given to the health of consumers.
The ESS for food harvesting and manufacturing is a tiered certification program that provides a set of benchmarks demonstrating an organization’s commitment to ethical sourcing in the following areas:
Social Management: Social management programs under the ESS safeguard against discrimination and harassment in the workplace, promote transparent and lawful wage practices, and advocate fair labor practices that are non-exploitive and free of forced labor.
Environmental Management: Energy consumption, water use, waste management and pollution prevention are critical to ethical business practices. The ESS addresses these issues, as well as occupational health and safety, regulatory compliance, equipment maintenance, and incident management to verify safe working conditions and reduce negative environmental impacts.
Monitoring and Management Review: This critical component of ESS includes internal audits, monitoring, record keeping and management review. Here, corrective and preventative action takes place and senior company officials address employee concerns.
Flexible, Three-Tier Certification: The Ethical Sourcing Standard allows for flexible, three-tier certification options, each with a growing demonstration of the ESS’s provisions. Companies can choose the level of certification to pursue and are awarded certification upon successful completion of their audit.
Our mission has always been to deliver consistent, globally recognized food safety and quality certification that is based on sound scientific principles, valued by all stakeholders, and consistently applied across all industry sectors. In the best interests of consumers, food businesses, retailers, and society as a whole, we believe that the time has come to turn our collective attention to the sustainable and ethical sourcing of products throughout the supply chain. We invite you to join us in this discussion, and help us encourage the highest global standards of ethical behavior in the food industry.
For more information about the SQFI Ethical Sourcing Standard, please visit www.sqfiethicalsourcing.com.