Expected by food industry companies, the IFS Food (International Featured Standards) has been updated on 6th October 2020. The companies concerned must switch to the version 7 by 1st July 2021. What are the main changes?
What is the IFS Food?
The IFS Food is an auditing standard, created in 2003, recognised by the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative). It is intended for the certification of private label food products suppliers, particularly food processing companies. IFS Food concerns products known as "processed" or when there is a danger of contamination of the products at the level of the primary packaging.
What are the main benefits of being IFS certified?
IFS certification enables companies to stand out in terms of food quality and safety, while ensuring a competitive advantage in the market. It facilitates business relations.
One of the main benefits of being IFS certified is the reduction of the number of audits carried out each year: one audit per year by an IFS qualified auditor.
IFS-certified companies also have to set up a dedicated set of requirements while improving their processes, which in the long term reduces the costs associated with product recalls/withdrawals or waste management.
What are the main changes in the 7th version?
From now on, it will all be about "IFS evaluation" which will combine audit and field inspection. This new formulation highlights the product and process approach of the IFS with the ISO/IEC 17065 standard. The minimum duration of the audit is 2 days (GFSI v2020 requirement) of which half of the minimum audit will be performed on the field. Among the main changes is the introduction of a registration of unannounced assessments: called "unannounced audits" (or "unannounced assessments").
The rating system
The rating system of the standard has been modified, especially through the B rating, which changes its status. The B rating on a requirement thus changes from "deviation" to "focus point" (however the rating is the same via the 15 points lost). In the case of a B rating, no correction is to be made, it is an observation that could subsequently change to a deviation. The rating system is impacting the KOs, i.e. you will be on a grade A, C or D, but no longer B!
The standard checklist
Regarding the checklist, the 10 KOs (Knockout requirements) are kept with some clarifications and/or additions. The old 6.1 version had 281 requirements, while v7 has 237 requirements: beware, as the reduction in the number of requirements is mainly due to the fact that some requirements have been grouped together! This does not mean, therefore, that the referential is less demanding.
Among the 12 new requirements on the checklist there are: Food Safety Culture (FSC), Root Cause Analysis, Food Fraud, Foreign Body Risk, Subcontracting, Traceability and Pest Control.
The new requirements per chapter of the standard
Below are detailed some new requirements for each chapter of the standard.
Chapter 1: Governance and commitment
Changes have been made to the FSC, with a new requirement for information to be sent back to the certification body within 3 days for everything concerning: changes of name and/or address, product withdrawals/recalls, or visits by official services that have triggered a formal notice.
Chapter 2: Quality and food safety management system
The main innovations concern the integration of the "allergenic hazard" into the "chemical hazard" and the consideration of the "radiological hazard" within the HACCP study. For KO n°2 CCP (Critical Control Point), we will have several pieces of information to include in the monitoring procedure of these CCPs: the verification of the monitoring of the CCPs by a dedicated person in the company; the change of terminology (we no longer speak of "HACCP system" but of "HACCP plan").
Chapter 3: Resource management
This chapter has seen a significant number of requirements be merged: 25 requirements in v7 versus 28 in v6.1.
Chapter 4: Operational procedures
In this chapter, the main changes will impact subcontracting: the quality management system (QMS) will have to integrate the risks related to subcontracting with the implementation of a contract that will take into account the specificities of the subcontracted activity. These subcontractors will have to be audited by the company or certified according to a reference system recognised by the GFSI (IFS Broker, IFS Logistics, FSSC 22000).
Other changes are made regarding the perimeter of "sensitive areas", as well as on the following parts: "cleaning and disinfection"; "reduction of risks linked to foreign bodies"; "pest control"; "reception and storage"; "traceability"; "reduction of risks linked to allergens"; "food fraud".
Chapter 5: Measurement, analysis and improvement
This chapter deals with more detailed requirements, for example in relation to factory inspections. For example, during hygiene audits/inspections, control of the condition of production facilities, storage and outdoor areas has been added.
Chapter 6: Protection of the food chain against malicious behaviours
Several requirements have been reworked and merged in this chapter. The documentation has been shortened, while the food defense plan is more thorough and must be reviewed at least once a year. New features include the introduction of the effectiveness test to verify the food defense plan.
As a result, several changes have been made to the new version of the IFS Food, the first evaluations can begin on 1st March 2021.