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Conn’s Chips Receives SQF Certification & Gets on the Shelves of Big Box Retailers

Conn’s, a potato chip and snack foods company in Ohio for over 85 years, chose Kellerman Consulting to partner with to successfully complete their Safe Quality Foods (SQF) certification on their first try.

The Overview:

  • Conn’s was operating out of an older facility and had initial concerns about the ability of the facility itself to become compliant with SQF expectations.
  • Third-party food safety expectations were relatively new to the operation as they had only previously been held to FDA standards
  • The business co-manufactures a variety of products for multiple different entities alongside the production of their own labeled products, therefore this also required consideration with their SQF program.

The Result:

Conn’s passed their first ever third-party food safety audit on the first attempt.

Our Process


Intake Process and Food Safety Gap Assessment

  • In order to get on the shelves at some major retailers, Conn’s were being asked to obtain a third party GFSI certification. Third-party food safety expectations were mostly new expectations for them. Existing documentation was enough to comply with FDA requirements, however, not enough to meet SQF requirements.
  • It was determined that information about their operations and processes would be gathered by asking questions of the facility and conducting a site visit walkthrough early in the process.
  • After visiting the facility, it was noted that the best approach would be to rebuild the food safety program from the ground up and to correct some facility issues prior to the SQF audit.

Program Development

  • With all the necessary information gathered, the SQF program was developed while collaborating with the Food Safety Director of the facility to ensure the program was customized to include accurate and up to date information about the facility and the processes within.
  • Customized monitoring logs and forms were developed to ensure tracking of all the necessary information to maintain their SQF system was as easy and streamlined as possible to ensure full SQF compliance every operational day.


  • A key group of facility personnel headed up by the Food Safety Director met with Kellerman Consulting on a weekly basis to discuss the expectations and implementation strategies for the various programs required for SQF compliance.
  • During implementation, the expectations of the various policies and procedures would be discussed, and the client would work on implementing the items discussed during that week’s implementation meeting. The subsequent week, issues and concerns about the previous week’s topic would be discussed prior to moving onto the next topic.
  • Implementation goals and objectives were set on a weekly basis to keep the project on track to ensure the client was ready to be audited according to their ideal timeline noted during the intake process.

Audit Preparation (Internal Audit)

  • After all the various programs were covered, meetings continued to be held weekly to help guide successful implementation of the SQF plan at the facility.
  • Kellerman Consulting conducted a few visits to the facility during this process, culminating in a full day onsite internal audit of the SQF program to ensure all aspects of the SQF program were effectively implemented in the facility and to identify any discrepancies in the plan so they could be rectified prior to the official audit.

Audit Support

  • The client was able to pass their first ever third-party audit on the first try with only a handful of minor non-conformances, most of which were attributed to the age of the facility they operate in.
  • Kellerman Consulting assisted the Food Safety Director with conducting root causes analysis and implementing corrective actions for the documented non-conformances prior to submitting the corrections to the auditing body to finalize the audit.
Jaime Miller, female Registered SQF Consultant discussing the Kellerman Consulting process.

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