Our commitment to the food industry during the COVID-19 crisis.
SGS continues to closely follow the COVID-19 situation as it develops around the world. It is clear COVID-19 is developing at different rates in different countries. As a global organization, we are proactively working to ensure that the correct measures are in place for each territory to ensure all potential health and business risks are minimized.
We have made this swift response to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to ensure the safety of our staff, customers, their families and other stakeholders. This strategy also allows us to maintain service, as much as is technically possible, so that we can continue to deliver high-quality solutions to the food industry during this difficult time.
We are committed to supporting our customers and their businesses at this time.
The new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is highly transmittable and a series of measures are advised. Due to high awareness over hygiene measures, assurance of product safety in the food industry is now more important than ever. With our wide international auditor footprint, integrated network of laboratories and technical experts, we provide a wide range of solutions to support your business and help you navigate successfully through this unprecedented crisis.
COVID-19 Safety Control
Hygiene Monitored Program
Factory Restart Program
HACCP for Catering
Our SGS Molecular Center of Excellence has developed virus detection testing for SARS-CoV-2 to help companies recover from the negative impacts of the pandemic.
Viruses remain viable for different periods of time, depending on the surface and the type of virus. When renewing your hygiene monitoring plan, it is therefore important to include targeted testing to ensure it is working effectively.
Our specialist testing solution will alert you to the potential presence of the virus in your premises. Using this information, you can then quickly adjust and reinforce your protection measures to ensure your employees and customers remain safe.
Swabbing for viruses can be performed on:
- Packaging: mitigate the risk of producing infected products through packaging
- Surfaces: the virus can stay viable on contaminated surfaces, such as door handles, for up to five days
- Manufacturing: the virus can be transmitted person-to-person and surface-to-person during production
Our SARS-CoV-2 specific detection method is based on the RT-PCR method, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
COVID-19 Safety Control
Specifically designed in response to the challenges faced by the food industry during this global pandemic, our COVID-19 Safety Control program addresses the needs of businesses across the food sector to ensure they recover as quickly as possible, with the highest standards of safety, protecting employees, customers and consumers.
This program, offers compliance with World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 guidelines and those of other recognized bodies, including local regulatory requirements (where applicable). It allows you to resume operations with confidence and provides your clients with the assurance of an independent assessment, and an SGS audit certificate referencing the achievement of COVID-19 Safety Control program requirements.
- As a standalone audit
- As an addendum with any Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) scheme or with any other third-party certification scheme
- As part of any other SGS onsite audit
Different options are available for audit reports, including access to the SGS user-friendly online platform CATS (Customized Assessment Tracking System) allowing clients secure access to audit data and trends in real-time on a smart dashboard.
We can deliver this program as a one-off certificate of achievement (e.g. alongside the GFSI audit) or as a surveillance option, in order to receive certificates of ongoing compliance on a regular basis.
Hygiene Monitored Program
Our popular Hygiene Monitored (HM) program has been further enhanced to include a dedicated COVID-19 addendum. This will help our clients re-open their businesses with confidence and ensure that their hygiene systems regularly meet WHO guidelines.
The HM Program is a global, independent, checklist-based audit system, specifically designed for businesses in the food service sector (including all restaurant operations, fast food outlets, supermarkets/convenience stores, catering units, etc.) who are focused on delivering measurable improvements in hygiene and food safety standards.
HM can be delivered on the SGS Customized Assessment Tracking System (CATS) online platform, with the ability to view audit data and trends in real time on a smart dashboard.
The HM mark is a visual demonstration to the consumer, of a credible and independently verified hygiene and food safety culture, within an establishment.
Below is a sample of areas covered under the programme:
- Storage and goods received
- Personal hygiene
- Preparation and processing
- Cleaning and HACCP plan
- Social distancing and illness reporting (COVID-19 addendum)
- Additional risk prevention for viral cross-contamination (COVID-19 addendum)
HM involves a specific sampling and testing regime to demonstrate the effectiveness of cleaning, disinfection practices and the overall hygiene of the operation. A SARS-CoV-2 detection test using the highly sensitive RT-PCR methodology is also available as an option, where additional information on the possible presence of this virus is required. HM can also be adapted to suit individual customer needs.
Factory Restart Program
Our COVID-19 Factory Restart Program will help you get back to your operational best with full confidence. The program helps you address and meet requirements that will ensure the health and safety of your employees and customers alike.
The Factory Restart Program is an independent, checklist-based audit system, specifically designed for food manufacturing/processing plants, looking for additional reassurance in the safety of their operation, post COVID-19 crisis.
The program covers a range of areas, including:
- GMP building fabrication assessment
- Hygiene and sanitation assessment and overall housekeeping maintenance
- COVID-19 risk controls via a standalone or integrated addendum (e.g. social distancing and illness reporting, and additional risk prevention for viral cross-contamination)
The renewal program can also be adapted to meet specific needs.
If required, the COVID-19 addendum only, can be delivered in conjunction with other audit/certification schemes.
HACCP for Catering
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification is an international standard that defines the requirements for effective food safety controls in relation to biological, chemical, physical, and radiological hazards.
Our program assesses the effectiveness of your HACCP implementation and maintenance. The program has been enhanced to include a COVID-19 addendum, including risks relating to:
- Delivery of food to the consumer
HACCP for Catering can be delivered on the SGS CATS (Customized Assessment Tracking System) online platform, with the ability to view audit data and trends in real time on a smart dashboard.
The COVID-19 addendum can also be delivered in conjunction with other audit/certification schemes.
In these challenging times of social distancing and lockdowns, we can serve our clients via a number of remote audit and inspection technologies to ensure continued compliance and effective risk management.
The technologies we offer include:
- SGS QiiQ: a remote auditing and inspection application that enables operations to take place anywhere in the world. QiiQ does not need any additional hardware to be purchased or sent to the site. The app can all be managed via a smartphone or any mobile device. Features include:
- Real-time exchange and recorded video
- Pictures of the process (such as manufacturing process, tests, product, packaging, documentation, marking, etc.)
- Web conferencing solutions: designed to give on-site personnel easy and real-time contact with SGS experts. Audits can be conducted via various popular web conferencing programs, such as Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams
Extending Your GFSI-recognized Certificate
On March 23, the GFSI standardized the process and announced that “certificates may now be extended once only, for up to six months following a risk assessment.”
We can conduct your risk assessment through:
- An off-site document review of your procedures to maintain safe food production in a crisis situation
- A call to interview the site leadership to verify the implementation of the procedure
On April 28, the GFSI began a consultation on permitting remote audits for GFSI schemes. We will offer remote recertification as soon as it is permitted by GFSI, following the completion of the consultation process – watch this space for updates.
Our experts continually monitor the evolving situation and can help you navigate the various options to ensure maintenance of your certificates.
Our food safety and hygiene courses provide learners with the knowledge necessary to work within a catering establishment and ensure that the premises complies with the relevant country regulations. The courses can be delivered at three levels: basic, intermediate and advanced.
COVID-19 control measures and best practices have been included as part of the main course material, which can be tailored to specific requirements.
Our courses are suitable for anyone working in food service and catering environment (such as restaurants, fast-food outlets, catering kitchens, cafes and bars, etc.) and include:
- Food hygiene and food safety requirements
- Steps in the catering supply chain
- Personal hygiene in the workplace
- Interpretative skills to understand cleaning, waste and pest control.
- Best design, layout and construction of a catering facility to ensure the highest levels of food safety and food hygiene
- Implement, maintain and improve food safety controls within the business
- Legal obligations for food businesses and food handlers
- Key risk areas related to COVID-19 in the catering supply chain
- Assessment and control measures required to mitigate risks related to COVID-19
All our hygiene courses can be delivered online as Virtual Instructive Led Training (VILT), as well as traditional methods.
Next Normal Solutions
The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in the modern era, posing unforeseen challenges to business continuity. At SGS, we are working hard to meet those challenges and support international efforts to beat COVID-19.
Our experts are responding to the challenges our clients face with innovative solutions to help operations now, to ensure business continuity for the duration of the pandemic, and to support the recovery and evolution through each phase of the ‘next normal’.