What Are SQF Codes And Why Are They Important?
Updated: Jul 1
Safe Quality Food (SQF) codes are a process and product certification standard that address all sectors of the food industry, from primary production to transport and distribution.
The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) offers an internationally recognized certification system, divided into three levels of certification, designed to meet the needs of all suppliers in the food industry.
The SQF 2000 Code is divided into these three levels:
Level 1, which covers food safety fundamentals
Level 2, which recognizes certified HACCP food safety plans
Level 3, which outlines a comprehensive food safety and quality management system
The main feature of the SQF Code is its emphasis on the systematic application of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) for control of food quality hazards, as well as food safety.
The implementation of an SQF management system addresses a buyer’s food safety and quality requirements and provides a solution for businesses supplying local and global food markets.
This enables suppliers to help assure their customers that food has been produced, processed, prepared, and handled according to the highest possible standards, at all levels of the supply chain.
Why Are SQF Codes Important In The Flooring Industry?
Companies that fall under the food and beverage processing industry are required to complete a selection of modules, which cover a series of steps pertaining to food processing, farming and distribution.
The modules are explained in a document called “Construction and Control of Product Handling and Storage Areas”, and there are several subsections that discuss flooring considerations.
The SQF codes that pertain to flooring are explained below.
2.2 Floors, Drains and Waste Traps
2.2.1 Floors shall be constructed of smooth, dense, impact resistant material that can be effectively graded, drained, impervious to liquid and easily cleaned.
This code states that the plant floor must be a resinous floor. The recommended flooring type for processing areas is either MMA or Urethane Concrete. Epoxy may be sufficient in areas of little thermal shock or heavy traffic.
2.2.2 When water is used, floors shall be sloped to floor drains at gradients suitable to allow the effective removal of all overflow or waste water under normal working conditions.
This code explains that a proper slope must be present in order to effectively drain water. The statement, “when water is used” is applicable to all processing areas, as sanitation procedures typically require high pressure, high temperature water/steam cleaning.
2.2.3 Drains shall be constructed and located so they can be easily cleaned and not present a hazard.
Drains are the most common harborer of harmful pathogens such as listeria, and the importance of drain cleaning cannot be overstated. Custom pitched trench drains, point drains, and custom formatted drainage systems may need to be installed to ensure worker safety.
2.3 Walls, Partitions, Doors and Ceilings
2.3.2 Wall to wall and wall to floor junctions shall be designed to be cleaned and sealed to prevent the accumulation of debris.
2.3.3 Ducting, conduit and pipes that convey services such as steam or water shall be designed and constructed so as to allow ease of cleaning.
These two codes can be fulfilled using proper coving. Coving eases cleaning operations and eliminates crevices for bacteria and mold to proliferate.
How To Ensure Your Floor Adheres to SQF Codes
Having your facility be SQF certified allows food safety and quality systems to be verified and validated throughout the food chain, increasing brand protection, consumer confidence, and loyalty.
The SQF codes outlined in this blog are helpful for getting a general understanding of the guidelines your facility must abide by, however, each plant floor has its own unique needs.
To ensure your floor adheres to the SQF codes, it is important to find a flooring expert who is experienced with resinous flooring in the food and beverage industry.
This professional must also be knowledgeable of all government regulations, including USDA, HACCP, and FDA regulations.
Luckily, our experienced staff can help you fill this need. Contact us now for a free consultation and quote.
To learn more about regulations and guidelines for food and beverage industry flooring, read our other blogs, “FSMA ACT – What you need to know” and “Importance of Proper Drainage for Food and Beverage Facilities."