Today, goods are produced in the farthest parts of the world, and we often don't have information on who makes them and how.
Once the products are delivered and available on the store shelves, end consumers have very little insight into additional details about the product, its ingredients, and the country of origin. That is why certificates are essential links, a kind of bridge of trust between investors and management and buyers and sellers.
Certificates are like badges that confirm the reliability of your company, as well as high standards of quality and safety. Certificates provide more opportunities for survival in the market, as well as entering into new markets.
Working in the transport and logistics industry means that you have to provide quality service on time and enable fast and easy delivery.
Different management systems help you implement demanding processes and procedures to improve your service quality, increase business efficiency and reduce environmental impact. Various certificates can help you with that.
Depending on the industry sector, a company needs to be certified following one of the specific standards, such as IFS, ISO, HACCP, or IFS Food and IFS Logistics, which are the subject of this article.
What is a logistics certificate?
Certification proves that your business is credible and meets or exceeds the basic requirements for certification. They make your company attractive to potential clients and partners.
Certification is a procedure in which an independent organization, based on the performed conformity assessment, determines whether the product, process, management system, or person meets the criteria in a particular normative document.
The certification body that conducts certification evaluates the documentation and the work of an organization that wants to be certified according to certain normative documents.
All suppliers are familiar with foreign retail chains' requirements and conditions for food production and food trade. Brand owners are legally responsible for their products' correctness and quality, which significantly affects the reputation. That is why retail chains require their suppliers to comply with the country's laws and regulations in which they operate and apply stricter requirements of internationally accepted standards and their certifications.
Based on the conducted assessment, the certification body awards the applicants a certificate, with the obligatory fulfillment of all conditions according to the prescribed normative documents.
What is IFS?
IFS (International Featured Standards) is a non-profit organization that develops IFS standards for the food industry. The IFS sets out the essential criteria that food industry standards need to meet. The IFS standards meet the requirements of the food safety management system, the provisions of acceptable manufacturing practices, and the criteria for establishing the HACCP system.
IFS standards were developed in 2002 by German and French food retail chains, in collaboration with other international retailers and experts, to create common standards for food safety in the food chain.
IFS standards include IFS Food, IFS Food Store, IFS Broker, IFS PACsecure, IFS Logistics, IFS HPC, IFS Cash & Carry.
The International Food Standard provides a transparent and useful tool for checking brands and their producers.
IFS standards contain several process standards that help users enforce food and product safety legislation and provide unique guidance on food safety and quality issues. The IFS certificate shows that the certified company has established appropriate procedures to ensure food and product safety.
When is IFS Food applied?
The IFS Food standard is internationally recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and is an exceptional standard for food, products, and services. It is based on general aspects of the food safety and quality management system.
The IFS Food standard applies when products are “processed” and a risk of contamination of the product during packaging.
Food contamination refers to harmful chemicals and microorganisms in food that can cause disease in end consumers. Toxic substances can be naturally present in products, added during production, processing, and food storage. In some situations, they can get into food quite by accident.
When placing their brands on the market, food retailers have more responsibility for the products. To better protect themselves from producers, they require evidence of their products' safety, quality, and legality based on the international food standards, IFS, which is why they exist.
IFS is one of the most recognized standards for the food sector. The certificate guarantees the achievement of a high level of safety and product quality. The application and certification of the system according to IFS are mandatory for suppliers of all food products of retail chains in the countries of the European Union.
The IFS certificate enables the company to gain market advantage through production and marketing. IFS allows your company to operate following the requirements of retail chains and customer expectations.
IFS-certified companies provide service or deliver products that meet customer specifications, guarantee quality and safety and continuously improve logistics processes.
Given consumers' growing demands, the IFS standard supports manufacturers, retailers, and service providers in quality assurance. Most IFS certificates are issued in Europe, but the number of IFS certificates is increasing thanks to globalization.
What does “IFS Logistics” mean?
The International Food Standard for Logistics applies to all traders, trademark manufacturers, warehouses, and third-party trading companies that perform shipping and warehousing operations themselves and provide all types of logistics services, regardless of the mode of transport (road, rail, sea, etc.). Today, more and more companies in the transport and logistics sector require IFS Logistics certification from logistics service providers.
The IFS Logistics standard is suitable for both food and non-food products. It focuses on systematic and comprehensive hygiene and risk management, inventory and temperature management, traceability, ensures transparency and quality throughout the food supply chain, connects production and sales levels, and covers all logistics activities, from warehousing, transport, distribution, loading, and unloading, etc.
IFS Logistics is the standard for quality management of all logistics operations related to food and non-food products. These activities include logistical services of: road, rail and ship transport, repackaging, warehousing, distribution, loading, unloading, etc.
When it comes to food safety, the "IFS Logistics" certificate prescribes compliance with the strictest criteria, helps meet legal obligations and protects customers. It also demonstrates the organization's ability to manage risks related to food safety. Prerequisites for obtaining this certificate are possession of ISO 9001 and HACCP certificates.
ISO 9001 certification shows that your organization is customer-focused and committed to providing consistent, quality services. This globally recognized Standard ensures best practices that help increase efficiency, encourage continuous improvement, and contribute to more efficient supply chains.
HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a process of hazard analysis and critical control points that include a whole range of preventive procedures to ensure healthy food.
The system was first designed in 1959 for NASA to provide harmless food for astronauts. Today, the HACCP system is legally mandatory for all entities that deal with food products in the production, processing, preparation, transport, or sale.
Using the specifications of each specific product and precisely defined procedures, "IFS Logistics" describes food safety in detail.
European companies especially value this certification level because the IFS Logistics certificate covers all components relevant to the customer.
These components include the quality of the company's work and detailed control of all processes, especially those related to food safety, such as the specifications of each product shipped or stored.
It is important to emphasize that the IFS certificate gives European traders access to marketable products. This certificate shows that the company produces food products following the European Union rules and the quality needs of retailers.
You can download IFS standards for free on the IFS website.
Advantages of IFS certification
The IFS certification offers many key advantages and benefits to companies that strive for excellence in quality, food safety, customer satisfaction, and those who seek a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
The most important European retail chains always require IFS certification from the suppliers participating in their supply chain. As IFS is an international standard, it can also be applied to suppliers outside Europe, which is advantageous. Some of the advantages are:
International standard certification reduces the frequency of retail audits, improves brand reputation, and gives customers confidence in their supply chain.
The unique food standard enables consistent food safety and quality assurance, which means fewer product returns and improved productivity.
IFS helps improve relationships with customers and authorities, opening up new business opportunities.
Compliance with the law
The certificate builds a management system that will help you better meet the requirements for quality/safety and legal compliance, emphasizing the legislation applicable in the countries to which the finished product is exported and consumed.
IFS certification reduces the cost of internal and external audits by using a single standard.
With IFS, there are more excellent opportunities to reduce production waste and product processing, which directly impacts environmental protection.
Helps you increase your business reputation as a manufacturer of high-quality and safe products.
How to get an IFS certificate?
If you want to get a certificate according to IFS Food standards, you first need to get acquainted with the application criteria, audits, and plan everything well. First of all, few steps need to be taken:
use a quality management system and food safety,
unanimously approve planned certifications within the company,
identify and record sources of risk from the point of view of HACCP,
creating appropriate production and hygiene practices,
educate yourself and get acquainted in detail about the IFS certificate and its legal basis.
A company that wants to prove meeting the IFS Food standard's requirements and obtain this certificate must go through an audit process. The audit implementation process is one of the indispensable components of all management systems.
The term auditing means an independent, planned, and documented process of collecting and evaluating objective evidence of meeting the criteria according to which the audit will be conducted. Before auditing, it is necessary to select the IFS certification body that issues the certificates.
For more detailed information on the IFS certification process and stages, as well as a list of all IFS internationally approved certification bodies by country, go to the website www.ifs-certification.com.
Management is a very demanding job, and today clients are looking for the most successful and simple systems and quality.
Nowadays, it is assumed that you have a certified quality management system. Standards, certificates, and norms are one of the foundations of a successful business.
The more certified systems you implement, the greater the credibility and trust of clients and customers and survival in the global marketplace.
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