IFS International Food Standard
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The International Food Standard (IFS) is a common food safety standard with a uniform evaluation system used to qualify and select suppliers. It helps retailers ensure the food safety of their products and monitors the quality level of producers of retailer branded food products.
Having a common standard and a uniform way to evaluate the quality level of suppliers reduces the need for second party audits. For the retailer, supply chain management becomes more consistent and efficient. It reduces the overall costs of the process, and increases the level of safety for customers, suppliers, and consumers.
While it may be a ticket to trade with retailers, it is also a chance for you to demonstrate your commitment to food safety, quality, and legality, and to work on continual improvement.
What is the IFS standard?
IFS is the international standard for auditing retailer and wholesaler branded food products. It is also supported by the major Italian trade association.
The IFS standard applies to suppliers at all steps of food processing subsequent to the agricultural stage. The requirements are related to the quality management system and the HACCP system (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points), supported by detailed prerequisite programmes, that is a set of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) and GHP (Good Hygiene Practice) requirements. IFS meets the criteria of the Global Food Safety Initiative by CIES.
Why is IFS certification good for my business?The most important European retailers require IFS certification from the suppliers that are included in their supply chain. But IFS is an international standard and can be applied to suppliers outside Europe as well.
The standard enables your organisation to:
- Provide evidence of commitment, and, in case of a food safety incident, legal defence in the frame of the due diligence concept*
- Build and operate a management system capable of helping you to better meet food quality/safety requirements and legal compliance, with specific reference to the legislation applicable in the countries where the finished product is consumed
- Provide a tool for food safety performance improvement, and the means to monitor and measure food safety performance effectively
- Facilitate reductions in product waste, product reworking, and product recall
How can I prepare for certification?
Companies that plan well will often have an advantage and be better prepared for certification. It is important that you and your company are positive, committed, and set clear target dates for implementation and assessment.
- Establishing a quality management system
- Identifying legal requirements
- Identifying and documenting the specific food safety hazards and the relevant control measures (HACCP system)
- Identifying the applicable Good Manufacturing Practice/Good Hygiene Practice, including a pest control programme, equipment and building maintenance programme, housekeeping and cleaning programme, and all the specific standard requirements
- Implement any needed structural improvements
* The capability to be able to demonstrate that every reasonable measure has been taken to avoid an incident.