Food safety and quality (in addition to taste and price) is a major concern for anyone involved in the industry – from farmer to retailer. New legislation (Food Safety Modernization Act – FMSA) and stepped up inspections have increased risks and costs for anyone involved in importing, distributing and selling food in the United States.
This is a reason why safety and quality certifications used by most global producers and retailers for years gain importance even for small and mid-size producer around the world. These certifications are based on stringent audits of production and logistics facilities and use HAACP (Hazard Analysis and Control Point) principles. They often exceed the standards set by local or national government agencies.
The leading German and European audit system is International Featured Standard (IFS), which is now also widely used around the world and in North America. The IFS certification is a symbol of excellence and for many products a pre-requisite to be considered for listings. IFS audit standards are not just used in food production (IFS Food), but also at packaging producers (IFS Packaging), distribution centers (IFS Logistics) and at importers, brokers, or sales offices (IFS Broker).
A major food service distributor, US Foods, has just made it mandatory that all logistics supplier are certified by IFS Logistics. Third party auditors conduct the audits and costs per audit vary by size of facilities and number of audit days. (Smaller companies usually require one audit day at a cost of less than $2,000).
The benefits for a certified company: consideration for listings at small and major retailers, reduction in customer complaints, costs savings in production and logistics, and reduced risk of recalls. Moreover, IFS certified companies are usually considered lower risk by FDA governmental inspectors under FSMA.
More information can be found at IFS North America