ARLINGTON, Va. — The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), a subsidiary of Food Marketing Institute here, is rolling out several technology-based changes to its food safety auditing program this year.
Last week it unveiled a new version of its website at www.sqfi.com. The website is designed to provide more detailed information to suppliers, retailers and food safety certification companies working under SQFI's food safety guidelines.
“It offers a simple way to find information,” said Jill Hollingsworth-Reed, group vice president, food safety, SQFI. Suppliers, for example, can search on the website for an auditing certification body that is experienced with its product line, and schedule an audit.
Retailers, which have free access to the website's functionality, can use it to search for SQFI-certified suppliers by product, country and other criteria. Beginning in June, retailers will also be able to access detailed audit information, including specific audit scores, with permission from audited suppliers. The information will be stored in a database hosted by Agentrics, Chicago.
On the new website, food safety auditors are able to download a free copy of Quickfire software, from U.K.-based Muddy Boots Software, which enables them to enter detailed food safety information into their laptops at audit sites. The software allows auditors to send results electronically to a certification body, as well as communicate with a supplier being audited. All subsequent changes in the audit can be tracked electronically.
In addition, the software provides auditors with guidelines on how to interpret food safety conditions and determine the severity of a problem. “It hopefully takes out some of the subjectivity,” said Hollingsworth-Reed. “We're hoping to have a lot more consistency in scoring and the interpretation of the standard.”
John Hanlin, vice president of food safety for Supervalu, Minneapolis, said it's important that the auditors all use the same measurements and standards in assessing the food safety procedures of food manufacturing and processing plants.