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The Ultimate Guide to SQF Audit Checklist

The Ultimate Guide to SQF Audit Checklist

Food safety is a huge concern for every food service business owner. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses in the United States every year. That’s one out of six people! This growing issue is why it’s so important to implement a food safety program in your business, such as SQF (Safe Quality Food). This article will introduce SQF, as well as show you why it’s so essential to create an SQF audit checklist to ensure that you execute a proper SQF audit. In turn, you will maintain your SQF certification and have a good reputation among your customers.

What is SQF?

SQF is an internationally recognized food safety program that helps businesses ensure the quality and safety of their food products. This program is designed to ensure the quality and safety of food using the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) food safety system.

The SQF certification is a well-recognized food industry standard that is conducted yearly. In addition, SQF standards are approved and recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

To maintain SQF certification, you must complete an annual SQF audit. This audit aims to check and confirm that SQF practices and procedures are being followed in your food business. It also helps ensure that suppliers and other businesses in the food supply chain are complying with SQF standards.

What is the SQF Audit Checklist?

An SQF audit checklist is a tool SQF auditors use to assess whether a food business is following SQF practices and procedures. This inspection form makes certain parties responsible for handling food comply with food safety regulations. Whether they’re restaurant staff, farmers, distributors, or suppliers, everyone needs to comply with the SQF standards.

Mishandling of food can result in the spread of disease-causing bacteria, leading to lawsuits filed against the business involved. That’s why it’s important to use an SQF audit checklist to standardize procedures and ensure no step in the food safety process is overlooked. 

This checklist covers all aspects of the SQF system, from food safety and quality management to facility and equipment maintenance. SQF audits are conducted by SQF-certified auditors, who will go through this checklist step-by-step to ensure everything is being done correctly. 

3 Levels of SQF Certification

Currently, there are three levels of SQF certification recognized for food safety standards. These levels are suitable for farmers, primary producers, food manufacturers, and distribution networks. The three levels of SQF certification are as follows:

  • 1st Level: Food safety basics
  • 2nd Level: HACCP concept
  • 3rd Level: A comprehensive Food Safety and Quality Assurance System


Preparing for SQF Certification

There are four steps to prepare for SQF certification. They are as follows:

  1. Ask a trained SQF inspector. Have them check the latest SQF code appropriate for your segment in the food supply chain. Also, don’t forget to log into the SQF database for more information.
  2. Create a HACCP food safety plan tailored specifically to your segment and your food business needs.
  3. Control food safety regularly through conducting audits. Record and document your findings comprehensively.
  4. Define your organization’s capacity and determine the risks and actions necessary to meet the SQF certification requirements. Another option would be hiring a third-party inspector who will conduct the SQF audits.


Benefits of SQF Certification

Having an SQF certification will ensure that you will consistently improve your processes. At the same time, identifying risks will be easier for you since you have a structured way to do so. Apart from that, here are other advantages of an SQF management system:

  • Continuous Monitoring: With SQF certification, you will constantly monitor your SQF system. As a result, any potential issues will be quickly discovered and dealt with before they cause any significant problems.
  • Global Recognition: SQF is a globally recognized standard, so having SQF certification will give you a competitive edge when selling your products in the international market.
  • Improved Food Safety: SQF certification requires a food business to have a robust food safety program. This will minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses and other safety issues.
  • Continuous Alignment With Food Safety Regulations: SQF certification requires a food business to regularly update its SQF system to align with the latest food safety regulations. This will ensure that your products are always safe for consumption.
  • Maximize Your Profits: Through SQF certification, you will be able to save money by reducing the need for costly recalls and other food safety issues. You will also grow your earning potential through excellent food safety and quality management.
  • Reduced Complaints: With SQF certification, you will be able to reduce customer complaints about your products. That means you won’t have to deal with food recalls due to poor quality. In turn, this will improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.


How to Create an SQF Audit Checklist

Creating an SQF audit checklist is not as difficult as it may seem. Here are steps you can take to create one for your company:

  • Step 1: Start by creating a list of all the SQF requirements that apply to your particular segment in the food supply chain. You can find this information in the latest SQF code.
  • Step 2: Once you have all the SQF requirements, create a checklist for each one. Ensure all the necessary details such as the frequency, who is responsible, and what needs to be done.
  • Step 3: After creating all the SQF audit checklists, compile them into one master SQF audit checklist. This will be your guide when conducting SQF audits.


Why Choose DataMyte

Creating an effective and efficient SQF audit checklist starts with choosing the right platform for the job. While you can do so using simple tools, you can create an entire workflow based on the SQF audit checklist using the DataMyte Digital Clipboard.

The DataMyte Digital Clipboard is a cloud-based workflow automation software that will help you create an SQF audit checklist and an entire SQF audit workflow. So you can easily create a custom SQF audit checklist with our workflow builder that includes all the necessary steps and details. 

With the DataMyte Digital Clipboard, you can share the checklist and workflow with your team, assign specific tasks to each member, and track their progress all at the same time. You can also be sure that your SQF audit checklist is always up-to-date and compliant with the latest SQF requirements.

For more information about DataMyte and its superb Digital Clipboard tool, visit our website now! We’ll be more than willing to help you create an SQF audit checklist perfect for your needs.



SQF is an excellent program that will help you improve the quality and safety of your food products. However, to get SQF certified, you will need to have a robust SQF system. An SQF audit checklist is a great tool to help you create and maintain such a system. We hope the details outlined in this article will help you create an SQF audit checklist for your company. Good luck!



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