From this month onwards, companies can register for an IFS Food Safety Check. But what exactly is an IFS Food Safety Check, which purpose does it fulfil and how does it work?
What is an IFS Food Safety Check?
The unannounced IFS Food Safety Check is an optional audit, which aims to review whether a company complies with the IFS requirements regarding HACCP, hygiene and pest control in daily operations. In contrast to regular IFS certification audits, IFS Food Safety Checks are carried out by IFS itself, independently of the certification body.
The basis of the IFS Food Safety Checks are selected requirements of IFS Food Version 6.1 and the IFS Wholesale Version 2, with a focus on HACCP, hygiene and pest control.
What is the point of the IFS Food Safety Check?
A successfully completed IFS Food Safety Check enables companies to demonstrate that they comply with the IFS requirements in daily operations – not only on the day of the certification audit, but every day.
German retailers represented in the IFS committees have accepted an announced IFS Food audit in combination with an unannounced IFS Food Safety Check as equivalent to an unannounced IFS audit. This gives sites the opportunity to return to the announced IFS certification audit, while proving their continuous compliance through an IFS Food Safety Check.
How does it work?
The IFS Food Safety Checks are carried out in a single day and without prior notice. A valid IFS certificate is the prerequisite for performing an IFS Food Safety Check.
Certified sites can apply for the IFS Food Safety Check as soon as all documents of their last IFS certification audit have been uploaded into the IFS database. At the time of registration, the current certificate must have a remaining validity of at least 6 months. This way IFS ensures the unannounced character of the IFS Food Safety Check. Interested companies are asked to register as soon as possible after receiving their certificate. In justified individual cases, IFS Management GmbH reserves the right to make changes to the deadlines in order to enable interested companies to participate.
As of now you can apply via the login area on the IFS website. The IFS Food Safety Checks are carried out independently of the certification body. Planning, execution and evaluation will be directed by IFS Management GmbH. The auditors are contracted directly by IFS.
What happens if a site does not pass the IFS Food Safety Check?
IFS Food Safety Check can be passed or not passed. The certification body will be informed via mail about the result. In case the result is “not passed” the certification body has to take a decision whether to suspend or to maintain the current IFS certificate. The site has the opportunity to provide IFS with an explanatory statement about the failed IFS Food Safety Check.
In case the check is not passed, IFS advises sites to inform their clients about the facts, circumstances and results of the IFS food Safety Check. After the upload of the report, all retailers that have the respective site in their favourite list of the IFS database, will be informed of the result via e-mail. When certification is successful, retailers will be informed in the same way.
The responsible certification body will be requested to decide within seven days whether the current certificate will be suspended or maintained. In case the certification body decides to maintain the current certificate, this information will again be forwarded by email to all retailers. If the responsible certification body decides to suspend the current certificate this information will be forwarded automatically by the IFS database to all users having access to IFS database and having mentioned the respective company in their favourites list of the IFS database.
During the Food Safety Check, IFS will take photos that serve as objective evidence in case of a not-passed evaluation. For reason of preservation of evidence, the photos remain with IFS Management GmbH. They will not be uploaded into the IFS database and are therefore not accessible to third parties.
Further information regarding the IFS Food Safety Checks (schedules of fees, fact sheets, etc.) can be found here.