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SQF Certification Opens New Opportunities for a Processing Plant

A nut processor in the western US wanted to become SQF certified to meet customer requirements and open new market opportunities.

The Overview:

  • Operational complexity around the use of co-packers to address food safety concerns.
  • Required a unique supply chain program and flow chart to address steps taking place in four separate physical locations.
  • They also import and package products for their customers.

The Result:

Proper management oversight of the program and successfully gaining SQF Certification.

Our Process

Food Safety Gap Assessment

  • The processing plant had existing documentation for standard operating procedures but was concerned it was incomplete. They had never undergone a third-party audit and they wanted help updating their documents to meet both FDA FSMA requirements and SQF standards.

Program Development

  • We helped them understand how much resources and time needed to be allocated in order to assure success internally. Our in-depth Scheduled Action Item List and Implementation Schedule detailed each required policy, procedure, and implementation step.
  • A preliminary document set of policies, procedures, and forms were created by our team in four weeks based on existing client standard operating procedures, identifying responsibilities, and basic processes to meet SQF requirements.
  • The SQF program documentation created was larger than expected for the nut processing plant. We worked with them to understand the purpose of the documentation in order to comply with all requirements for the SQF Program.
  • Based on our recommendations, they decided to hire a full-time Quality Assurance Specialist to help with the implementation of the program.


  • The Quality Assurance Specialist and Kellerman Consulting conducted weekly implementation meetings to facilitate the implementation of each policy, procedure, and program section by section, over the course of 9 weeks.
  • Updates and changes were made to programs as needed to better fine-tune documentation to the facility.

Audit and Inspection Preparation

  • We conducted a full-day on-site visit to assist with final implementation prior to the SQF desk audit.
  • Prior to the desk audit, the auditor sent incorrect information about the scope and expected audit schedule. This happens more often than not. We helped the plant to correct the scope issues and prepare for the correct audit schedule, even though it was not communicated accurately by the auditor.

Audit and Inspection Virtual Support

  • Desk Audit:
    • During the desk audit, the auditor confirmed that the audit schedule was incorrect, and performed the desk audit in accordance with our suggestions.
    • After the desk audit, we found several incorrect findings made by the auditor that required unnecessary corrective actions. We advised on how to resolve the erroneous findings in order to avoid conflict with the auditor as well as to pass the desk audit as well as after completion of audit.
  • In-Person Training
    • We did in-person training and on-site corrective action planning based on the auditor’s finding, which included educating the client on the auditor’s misinterpretation of the code. All corrective actions were accepted.
  • Auditor Relations Support
    • We educated the client on problematic behavior displayed by the auditor leading up to the audit as well as during the desk audit, and the client was then able to identify continued instances of inappropriate auditor behavior during the site audit that contradicted the SQF code.
    • We showed how to comply with auditor expectations and how to adjust the program for the annual recertification audit where a new auditor would be requested.
    • Following the site audit, Kellerman Consulting advised the client on multiple findings that were appealed and overturned on review.
Jaime Miller, female Registered SQF Consultant discussing the Kellerman Consulting process.

The nut processing plant got a passing grade on the SQF audit that assured 12-month recertification.

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