IFS certificates that cannot be extended due to the corona crisis are expiring. In order to maintain trust in the supply chain despite the expired certificate and to support the risk management processes of business partners, IFS offers affected companies optional solutions, developed specifically for this crisis situation. Meet the new IFS Remote Surveillance Check and the unannounced GMP on-site Check!
As a result of travel restrictions and lockdowns, many audits cannot take place as usual. IFS has decided that certificates that cannot be extended due to the pandemic cannot be extended without audits, and will therefore expire. When you are supposed to have an IFS audit during the COVID-19 pandemic, you have to follow specific steps that we summarized here.
In order to maintain trust in the supply chain despite the expired certificate and to support the risk management processes of business partners, IFS offers affected companies the optional IFS Remote Surveillance Check. The non-accredited solution is applicable for all IFS standards and the IFS Global Markets – Food Program and helps companies to control current risks within their supporting management processes. The surveillance check provides an overview of how companies work during the corona crisis and checks the most important supporting management processes since the last IFS audit.
However, the IFS Remote Surveillance Check is only a “spot check” – the result can therefore not be taken into account in current or future IFS certifications and IFS Global Markets Assessments.
The IFS Remote Surveillance Check may only be carried out by the same certification body that carried out the last IFS audit at the location or respectively has issued the certificate. Ideally, the same auditor should be used. Depending on the size and complexity of the company, the duration of the IFS Remote Surveillance Check can vary. However, the test must be at least five hours long and not longer than eight hours. The maximum assessment duration of eight hours can be divided into two consecutive days.
Only records and documents presented to the auditor or sent to the auditor before the start of the remote surveillance checks submitted can be recognized as evidence. This can include:
- HACCP / changes and verification actions (cleaning, pest control, trainings, corrective actions)
- Traceability check using a product with an increased risk of possible raw material shortages / supply chain challenges due to current situation – one product
- Crisis management (business continuity) + management responsibility, including recalls / withdrawals documentation
- Complaint management
- Requirements as listed in the designated remote surveillance checklist as per Standard/Program
The scoring of the checklist requirements consists of a basic evaluation of “OK”, “not OK”, “Major” (as defined in the standard / program) and “KO” (“not OK” for KO requirements).
If only “OK” evaluations are made during the check, the Remote Surveillance Check is passed.
If “Not OK” evaluations are raised and the certification body accepts the completed corrective action plan, the surveillance check is passed.
If “Not OK” evaluations are raised and the certification body does not accept the completed corrective action plan, the Remote Surveillance Check is failed.
If a Major/KO is raised, the surveillance check is failed. A follow-up is not possible. The company can request a new date for a full remote surveillance check, four weeks after the previous Remote Surveillance Check was failed.
If the IFS Remote Surveillance Check is not passed and an IFS certificate is still current and valid, the certification body will proceed according to IFS Standards Part 1, 5.8.1 and 5.8.2 (in IFS HPC Standard 6.8.1 and 6.8.2).
If the IFS Remote Surveillance Check is not passed and an IFS GM letter of confirmation is still up-to-date and valid, the certification body applies an approach in line with IFS Global Markets Food requirement 188.8.131.52., Part 1.
Communicate the results
After the IFS Remote Surveillance Check, the organization receives the official IFS letter “Result of the Remote Surveillance Check” from the certification body – regardless of whether the IFS Remote Surveillance Check has been passed or not.
This document uploads the certification body to the IFS database, along with the approved corrective action plan. Your favorites will then receive a notification that the “Remote Surveillance Check / Document Control” check box is selected and that the documentation has been uploaded.
The letter is valid for a maximum of 6 months. As soon as a full on-site audit can take place, it must take place. At this point the “Result of the Remote Surveillance Check” loses its validity.
Further information can be found here.
Optional solutions after the crisis: Unannounced GMP on-site check
The unannounced IFS GMP on-site check is an optional tool for locations that have already been IFS certified and were unable to renew their certificate due to the corona crisis. The check can be carried out as soon as the location is accessible again after the crisis.
The GMP on-site check is not related to the remote surveillance check and results in the letter “Result of GMP Check”. It is valid for 6 months. This measure is intended to shorten the audit time after the Corona crisis, with the aim of reducing the expected backlog of audits and reinforce trust in business relationships during these extraordinary times.
Please note that the GMP Check is a stand-alone solution, not accredited and has been specifically developed for the Covid-19 crisis only. You can download the document here.
Do you have any questions about the Corona requirements of other standards? You can find the current summary here. Contact us if you have further questions and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.