IFS Food Version 7: the characteristics of the new standardAlessandro
IFS Food is an International Standard, recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), for assessing the conformity of products and processes in relation to food safety and quality. The goal of IFS Food certification is to assess whether a manufacturer’s process activities are capable of producing a product that is safe, legal and compliant with customer specifications. This represents an internationally shared evaluation method to qualify and select food suppliers. IFS Food is applicable to food producers and can only be used for food processing companies and / or for companies that pack bulk food products
NEW VERSION OF THE STANDARD
IFS Food Version 7 (V.7) was published in October 2020 and will enter into force on March 1, 2021. From that date it will be possible to carry out Assessments according to Version 7. The latter will be mandatory for all companies from July 1 2021, the date on which Version 6.1 (V. 6.1) of the Standard will be definitively passed. Companies already certified that will be subjected to Assessment between 1 March and 1 July 2021, will still be able to follow the IFS Food Version 6.1 (November 2017) scheme, so the transition to the new version will be carried out at the next verification.
WHAT’S NEW WITH IFS FOOD VERSION 7?
The revised structure facilitates the use of the standard and places greater clarity on auditors’ expectations.
The following are the main changes made with respect to V. 6.1:
• the on-site evaluation will have more weight than the documentation, which in any case does not lose its importance. The minimum duration of site inspection changes from 33% to 50% of the audit time. The criteria for making any reductions (min. 33%) are indicated in the IFS Food doctrine, which we remind you to provide additional rules and clarifications about the interpretation of some IFS Food requirements;
• the risk assessment highlights the IFS approach to the product and process in line with ISO / IEC 17065: 2012;
• improved structure, adapted to the needs of IFS stakeholders;
• inclusion of Food Safety Culture in the Assessment Checklist;
• use of a Checklist aligned with the most recent GFSI benchmarking requirements version 2020.1, FSMA and EU regulations;
• 15% reduction in the number of requirements compared to the previous version (some of which are merged);
• improved and better defined scoring system. The new system aims to make the understanding of critical issues more immediate and guide the continuous improvement of the company;
• a better structure and ease of use of the Assessment report;
• for every three certification assessments, one must be unannounced. This implies that at least every three years a certified company will receive an IFS assessment without notice. In this regard, the last unannounced IFS assessment will be indicated on the certificate issued to the company, with the aim of making the history of the certifications of the company in question even more transparent;
• the GLN (Global location number) becomes mandatory for companies located in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the United Kingdom. GLN is a 13-digit identification number and is part of the GS1 standard systems. It is therefore essential for the issue of the IFS Food V.7 certificate on which it must finally be indicated.
ADVANTAGES OF IFS FOOD CERTIFICATION
Companies that choose to follow the IFS Food certification process adopt the IFS risk-based approach, which allows for individual risk assessments and creates a focus on areas that are important for unique business processes. Furthermore, the scoring system adopted by IFS V.7 allows the evaluated company to further improve its performance, in terms of product quality and safety. By implementing IFS requirements, companies improve their processes by reducing waste and costs related to complaints and recalls. In the global market, IFS certified companies are synonymous with reliability, trust, safety and quality. By proving to continually meet customer expectations, IFS-certified companies tend to retain existing customers, acquire new ones, and increase sales.