Trust But Verify
Maybe it’s produce that has been linked to a pathogen-based recall. It could be repeated problems with incorrect or missing components. Perhaps it’s consistent customer complaints about spoilage or “off” tastes and odors.
Nothing is a sure thing, of course, but manufacturers and retailers can get as close as possible to optimal food safety and quality by partnering with approved suppliers that don’t struggle with these kinds of problems. There is a real and valuable assurance in receiving materials and products from manufacturers that have been certified to the SQF standards.
Teaming with pre-vetted suppliers has proven even more important over the past couple of years, as the supply chain has become both more complex due to COVID-19, logistical bottlenecks, and geopolitical upheaval. Those ongoing uncertainties can raise risks at a time when retailers, food service operators, and other purveyors can least afford them.
Here are five ways to build a strong approved supplier program:
- Create a diverse, informed team, with members from across your site who can bring their own perspectives and expertise to the different facets of evaluating suppliers.
- Document the process of choosing and assessing suppliers, establishing and measuring against specifications and the site’s food safety requirements and certifications, including adherence to stringent programs like SQF. This also enhances your traceability efforts.
- Assess the risk level of a supplier’s ingredients and products based on your own criteria, making sure that you do due diligence of their past performance, such as previous recalls or audit failures.
- Given supply chain gaps and glitches in recent times, identify backup suppliers who also meet high standards for safety and quality in a proven manner.
- After evaluating and choosing suppliers who have undergone and passed rigorous SQF food safety and quality audits, verify their operations at least every year. Ensure that their SQF audits are up to date and consider sending in your own team members who are knowledgeable in these areas.
Ultimately, working with SQF-approved suppliers strengthens your food safety and quality – and your brand. Their seal of approval can also be part of yours.
To learn more about How to Implement an Approved Supplier Program:
- Consider the SQF self-paced course.
- Use the free Approved Supplier Program SQF Edition 9 Guidance document.
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