Pour l‘Amérique

IFS Integrity Program Newsletter

1) Information concerning the Integrity Program of the International Featured Standards

Start of Integrity Program

Since July 2010, within the frame of the Integrity Program, on-site CB audits have been carried out. With these audits, faults and disagreements shall be noticed, but based on a good cooperation with the certification bodies. The main aim is to guarantee the high quality of the International Featured Standards. In combination with these CB office audits, surveillance on-site audits will be carried out at certified companies.

Because the aim of the Integrity Program is a continuous improvement of the certification processes, it was decided that in the first year of Integrity Program, penalties according to the Annex of the framework agreement will be only demanded if a third breach is decided by the Sanction Committee during this year. Nevertheless, all other actions described in the Integrity Program process (e.g. obligation to compensate HTS for the costs of the audit, corrective actions, trainings) have to be carried out. Additionally, all breaches which were determined in the first year of the Integrity Program will be noticed and kept in mind for the next years.

Notifications in the frame of the IFS Integrity Program

With this newsletter, we want to give a short overview of the current situation concerning complaints and announcements received through the database.

The main problems are:

  • the audit time is not in line with the requirements of the standard,
  • auditors sometimes don’t have the right scope,
  • there are faults when uploading data into the audit portal (audits not uploaded in time in connection with no use of the diary function, different accounts for the same company in the database, differences in the designation of the company comparing report and portal).

It has been noticed, that in 35 % of all audit reports uploaded into the database, less than 1,5 audit days are mentioned.

Since the beginning of the year 2010, about 20 out-of scope notifications for auditors conducting IFS Food audits were noticed in the database.

These notifications and further analyses are collected and are the basis for future CB office audits.

Working on Complaint Management

Since 2010, almost 45 administrative complaints have been handled by the IFS office. The main reasons for these complaints were:

  • The report of the audit had not been uploaded in time.
  • Different accounts were generated for the same supplier.
  • The diary function of the database had not been used.
  • The company’s name mentioned in the account of the database and the company’s name mentioned in the report or the certificate are different.

Since 2010 there have been 20 quality complaints.

The main reasons for these complaints were significant deviations regarding the results of the IFS audit in comparison with performed supplier audits or complaints mentioned.

For all these complaints, the first step is to demand from the respective certification body a statement which should be generated with the help of a thorough investigation of the case. For this fact, we want to point out, that the investigation should lead to a continuous improvement of the internal processes at the certification bodies and that a route analysis is to be done as well.


2) Clarification of the process if a Major has been issued (Standards IFS Food, Version 5, IFS Logistic, Version 1, IFS Household and Personal Care, IFS Broker and IFS Cash and Carry)

Process for audits with a Major non-conformity assessment and fulfillment of equal or more than 75 % of the requirements

Because there had been different queries concerning the process for uploading of a report with one Major Non-conformity and a rating > 75 % we want to explain the process again in detail.

In this case, it is obligatory that the audit report with the Major has to be uploaded into the portal and additionally the certification body has to block the previous / current certificate on the database. This is mentioned on page 29 of the IFS Food standard ("If the auditor gives a K.O. or a Major Non-conformity assessment in the renewal audit, the previous certificate becomes invalid immediately").

The certification body should inform their clients of this process, because a notice of the blocked certificate is sent to all retailers which have memorized the company in their favourite list. If the blocking was not carried out, retailers cannot see that there had been a Major rating and this could cause an administrative complaint against the certification body.

According to page 29 of the IFS Food standard, a follow up audit shall be scheduled within 6 months of the first audit when the auditor gives a Major Non-conformity assessment and equal or more than 75 % of the requirements have been met.

On page 14 of the standard, it is additionally mentioned that the follow up audit (in case of process failures which led to the Major non-conformity) shall be performed the earliest 6 weeks after the previous audit and no later than 6 months after the previous audit.

When the follow up audit has been carried out, the final report of the follow up audit is additionally to be uploaded into the portal and in the report the existence of a Major NC in the previous audit has to be described.

If the final report has been uploaded, retailers which saved the company on their favourite list will get a message that the data on the portal have been updated. Thereby they can look at the new certification status or can choose to get in contact with the company.


3) Clarification concerning certificates of conformity for packaging materials and food contact materials (IFS Food Standard, Version 5, requirement 4.5.3)

The IFS Office has been asked to write a statement concerning certificates of conformity in English. We have been pointed to the fact that some auditors demand that the certificates of conformity have to be available in the respective local language.

We want to issue the following statement:

There is no obligation mentioned in the IFS Food Standard, Version 5 that certificates of conformity have to be available in the respective local language. If certificates in English are available in accordance with relevant legal regulations and directives and if these documents contain all necessary information relating to legal regulations and directives, IFS does not especially demand certificates of conformity in the respective local language.

Certificates of conformity are requested during an IFS audit to check that the materials used are suitable for the intended use. Self-evidently the responsible person in the audited company should be able to read and understand the certificates of conformity. If during the audit any doubt occurs that the responsible person might not be able to understand the documents in English language (e.g. if the verification of the capability of the packaging material for the relevant products seems not to be done), the auditor will investigate this fact. But it is the responsibility of the auditee to get in contact with their suppliers of packaging materials and food contact materials if the content of these supporting documents is not clear for him. There is no general demand for certificates of conformity in the language of the auditee.

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