SQF Level 3 Audit a Success


SQF is a Global Food Safety Initiative compliant Food Safety Management Certification, created and managed by SQF Institute, used to control food safety risks. Our Cornelius plant was SQF 2 certified and at par with most of the industry. Level 2 SQF Certification (also known as “Certified HACCP-Based Food Safety Plan”) incorporates all of the Level 1 requirements and adds Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) risk assessment and implementation. SQF level 3 raises the bar by focusing on food quality, continuous improvement, and accountability. It is a “Comprehensive Food Safety and Quality Management System.”

With the new plant, the team decided to strive for the highest level and most stringent of SQF certification – level 3. The team knew that this was no easy task, with every detail scrutinized by the auditor. But, they were up for the challenge! Hazelnut Growers of Oregon has NOW earned SQF (Safe Quality Food) Level 3 certification!

Our team accelerated the creation of quality systems in order to speed up what is typically a multi-year process. First, we had to complete the desk audit which consisted of a rigorous review of all our documents, policies and procedures. Then, we had to have an in-depth audit of the plant to validate that the documented policies were implemented and effective. Over two days the auditors toured the plant to check that we were following Good Manufacturing Practices, watched our practices real time, talked to team members from all levels of the organization and questioned them about their knowledge of SQF. All of this was done to ensure that all members of the team were doing their part to uphold quality systems.

To the credit of the team’s tireless efforts, we’re pleased to report that our audit was a success! We are now an SQF level 3 plant, putting us in the top tier of food safety manufacturing in the country. Only 12% of food processing plants are SQF Level 3 certified. This certification will allow us to better partner with our existing customers, as well as grow our value-added business with the largest brands, retailers, and food/ingredient suppliers. This highly respected certification demonstrates to the industry that we are serious about food safety.