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The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), whose Safe Quality Food (SQF) program is managed by the Food Marketing Institute, has entered into a cooperative partnership with Mexico Calidad Suprema (MCS), a nonprofit association of food producers and packers in Mexico. FMI also aid that it had joined with the German Retail Federation (HDE) and the French Wholesale and Retail Federation (FCD) to develop harmonization between the European International Food Standards (IFS) and SQF program to enhance food safety and quality certification standards.
SQF is a global food safety and quality certification program and management system created to meet the needs of buyers and suppliers worldwide.
"Working together, we can use our resources to help ensure that Mexican suppliers meet the requirements of both SQF and MCS," said FMI president and c.e.o. Tim Hammonds in a statement regarding the collaboration with the Mexican association. "This will open new markets for trade between our countries and provide American consumers an extra measure of confidence that Mexican producers observe the highest food safety standards."
MCS works with the Mexican government to develop and bolster agricultural competitiveness through information, education, training, certification, promotion, and the use of the Mexico Supreme Quality Official Trademark, a distinctive seal owned by the country's government and ensuring the quality of Mexican products. The seal additionally certifies agricultural products meet official food safety standards to benefit producers, packers, distributors, and consumers.
On the subject of the partnership with HDE and FCD, Hammonds noted: "This collaborative effort will go a long way toward restoring consumers' trust in the food they buy no matter where in the world it was grown, raised or processed. It will streamline international audits, reduce costs for suppliers and broaden the reach of state-of-the-art food safety standards throughout our food supply."
"There will be cooperation in many areas, including common auditor training, selection of certification bodies, requirements for accreditation bodies, and connection of the databases," added Stephan Tromp, deputy secretary general of the HDE and IFS director.
"Through this cooperative effort, suppliers and retailers in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and other markets will benefit by efficiencies in the system," noted Alexander Rogge, head FCD and IFS director.
"U.S. regulatory agencies are looking at ways to use private sector third-party certification to complement their oversight of the safety of imported foods," said SQF Institute executive director Paul Ryan, "and this collaboration enhances our ability to expand the use of these certification programs."
The partnership will allow the parties to resolve legislative and cultural differences that affect the auditing and certification processes on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in the Asia Pacific region, according to FMI.
IFS is the food safety and quality standard of the German, French, Italian, Austrian, Swiss, and Spanish retailers. The IFS and SQF standards have been recognized as meeting the requirements of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarking process and have been adopted by over 16,000 suppliers globally.