Companies can now register for an IFS Food Safety Check. But what is it actually, what is the purpose of an IFS Food Check and how does it work? We answer all these questions in the following article.

What is an IFS Food Safety Check?

The unannounced IFS Food Safety Check is an optional additional audit and is intended to check whether a company complies with the IFS requirements regarding HACCP, hygiene and pest control in its daily operations. In contrast to the regular IFS audits, the audits are not carried out by your certification body, but by IFS itself.

The basis for the IFS Food Safety Check is formed by selected requirements from IFS Food Version 6.1 and IFS Wholesale Version 2, which are of particular relevance to the IFS requirements in the areas of HACCP, hygiene and pest control.

What is the purpose of the IFS Food Safety Check?

A successfully completed IFS Food Safety Check enables companies to demonstrate that all important IFS standard requirements are also met in daily operations - i.e. not only on the days when the certification audit takes place.

An announced IFS Food Audit in combination with an unannounced IFS Food Safety Check is accepted by the German trading companies represented in the IFS Panel as equivalent to an unannounced IFS Food Audit. This gives many industrial companies the opportunity to undergo an announced IFS audit again and to demonstrate continuous compliance with IFS standard requirements with the help of an IFS Food Safety Check.

How does it work?

IFS Food Safety Checks are carried out, as successfully tested in previous years, within one day and without prior notice. The prerequisite for the implementation is that the company holds a valid IFS certification.

The registration for the IFS Food Safety Check can be done as soon as the last IFS certification audits have been uploaded in the IFS database. The duration of the IFS certificate must be at least six months. This ensures that the unannounced character of the IFS Food Safety Check is guaranteed. After the IFS certificate has been issued, interested companies should therefore register for the IFS Food Safety Check as soon as possible. In justified exceptional cases, IFS Management GmbH reserves the right to make changes to the stated deadline in order to allow interested companies to participate.

Registration is now possible via the login area of the IFS website. IFS Food Safety Checks are carried out independently of certification bodies. Planning, implementation and evaluation are carried out directly by IFS Management GmbH. Auditors are also assigned directly by IFS Management GmbH.

Failed - What happens then?

The IFS Food Safety Check can be passed or not passed. The certification body will be informed about the result by mail. In case of a fail, the certification body has to decide on their own about possible consequences to the current certificate. The company can send a statement to the IFS by mail.

In case of a not-passed, IFS recommends companies to inform their customers about the facts, circumstances and the result of the IFS Food Safety Check. After uploading the report on the IFS database, the retailers that have indicated the company among their favorites will be informed about the result. If the certification is successful, the retailers and the certification body will also be informed through this channel.

The relevant certification body will be required to make a decision regarding the suspension or maintenance of the current certificate within seven days. If the certification body decides against a suspension, the retailers will be informed by mail. In case of certificate withdrawal, the information will be forwarded by the IFS database to the users who have access to the IFS database and have included the respective company in the favorites list.

During the IFS Food Safety Check, photos are taken, which serve as objective evidence in case of failure. For reasons of preservation of evidence, these photos are kept at IFS Management GmbH. However, they are not uploaded to the IFS database with the visit report and are therefore not accessible to third parties.

Constanze Illner

Constanze Illner (she/her) is Research and Communications Officer in the area of sustainability and food safety. In this position, she keeps an eye on all important developments in this context and informs our clientele in a monthly newsletter. She also moderates the annual Sustainability Heroes conference.