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Certification bodies respond to IFS suspension

By Joe Whitworth+

22-Mar-2016
Last updated on 22-Mar-2016 at 14:37 GMT2016-03-22T14:37:03Z

IFS suspends Certiquality and Bureau Veritas Certification Denmark

Certiquality and Bureau Veritas Certification Denmark have cited ‘administrative issues’ after being temporarily suspended by International Featured Standards (IFS).

The firms are certification bodies and carry out audits to the IFS quality and safety standard.

Certiquality S.R.L was suspended for three months starting on 15 January.

“IFS Office is aware, that this is a strict decision for the involved certification body Certiquality S.r.l. Nevertheless this decision is in accordance with the current valid Annex 4 of the Framework Agreement which was signed by all certification bodies.”

Certification bodies respond

Certiquality told us the suspension was due to administration problems and not a quality non-conformity.

“You have 56 days to upload a record and the problem was we were unable to do this in the timing available. One issue was we have not so many auditors for the number of companies. The problem has been sorted as we have changed how we work,” said the firm.

“When you upload records you have to upload corrective actions of the company also so if a company delays its action plan the upload will be delayed.”

Bureau Veritas Certification Denmark was also suspended for three months starting on 1 February.

“This decision of IFS Integrity Program has no impact on all other IFS certified sites and certification bodies. But IFS Integrity Program has to ensure that the IFS standard requirements are always respected and the integrity of the whole IFS program is guaranteed.”

Bureau Veritas Certification Denmark told us that IFS Quality Assurance Management strictly applied requirements of IFS Framework Agreement and suspended it ‘mostly due to minor administrative issues’.

“A mitigation plan has been approved by IFS and implemented, allowing Bureau Veritas Certification to manage on-going certification audits, without affecting any clients,” said the firm.

“IFS visited in February Bureau Veritas Certification Denmark and already confirmed that suspension will be lifted from May 1, as robust corrective actions were effectively implemented to maintain confidence in Bureau Veritas certification processes.

“Bureau Veritas is one of the largest IFS certification bodies, currently delivering more than 1,600 IFS certificates globally, with a highly qualified network of auditors. The group monitors closely the quality of services performed under its accreditations.”

Two certification bodies were also suspended in 2013 but IFS did not tell us which ones.

When asked for more information about the above cases, IFS said it would not communicate such detailed information about specific cases.

About IFS Food Check

IFS Food Check is a one day unannounced check at an IFS food manufacturer which focuses on general processes, hygiene and pest control.

From the time of suspension:

─ The certification body is not permitted to issue certificates whilst suspended; no certification decision shall be made.

─ The certification body is not permitted to schedule or perform audits whilst suspended.

─ Sites with audits currently planned during the suspension period have to be contacted by the certification body. Sites should make arrangements with an alternative approved and accredited certification body for the scheme.

─ A review has to be done of the processes operated by the certification body to ensure the validity of currently issued certificates. The content and extent of the review shall be based on the reason for the suspension

Source: IFS

Last year more than 1,000 were performed mostly in Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Belgium and Poland.

The pass rate was 95.5% and failures were mostly based on daily business of staff members.

A total of 24.6% passed with only minor deviations and 75.4% with deviations which had no impact on food safety or legality aspects but which needed corrective actions.

Where the certification body or the auditor is responsible a decision is made by the IFS Sanction Committee and different levels of breaches can be given.

In IFS in 2015, 2.4% of manufacturers failed an official announced IFS Food Audit (having at least one major or KO) carried out by an IFS certification body.

A total of 4.5% (45) failed last year at an unannounced IFS Food Check done by auditors commissioned by IFS Management.

The main reasons included CCPs not under control and not recorded, pest problems near lines with open products, lack of foreign body management and control, severe cleaning deficiencies, batch-related traceability not possible, product labelling not conforming to law and temperature of products not fulfilled.

If an IFS Integrity Program on-site audit was done based on a complaint around 35% of the audited companies failed (having at least one major or KO).

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