The new version of the IFS Food Standard was published in April 2023. The transition period from IFS Food 7 to IFS Food 8 begins on 1 October 2023. From 1 January 2024, IFS Food Version 8 audits will be mandatory. IFS cites alignment with the new Codex Alimentarius, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI 2020) benchmark criteria, and the upcoming ISO 22003-2 for product and process standards as reasons for the revision. In the following, DQS senior lead auditor Marion Brust gives you an overview of the changes in the new version.

To put it in a nutshell: A lot has changed in the new IFS Food Standard. Our auditor tried hard to keep the article short, but it was not possible. After all, we do not want to deprive you of any points that are important for you as an IFS certified company. 

We will therefore first give you an overview of the reasons for the revision. Then, in part 2, the most prominent general changes are briefly outlined. Then it gets down to business: the Standard itself. Part 3 highlights the revised requirements and puts them into context. The article concludes with the timeline for the transition.

Part 1: Reasons for the revision of IFS Food

The IFS Food V8 Standard, just like the recently revised BRCGS Food 9 and FSSC Version 6  standards, aims to reflect the benchmark criteria of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI 2020), the latest revision of the Codex Alimentarius General Principles of Hygiene, as well as the ISO 22003-2 standard.  In addition, the IFS Doctrine regulations and stakeholder feedback have been integrated into the new version 8.

Particular attention was paid during the revision to clearer, simpler and more practical wording.

 

Part 2: The most prominent general changes in IFS Food 8

  • The B scoring becomes a deviation: almost full compliance: 15 points, for a KO-requirement: 0 points
  • KO-requirement: can be scored with A, B or D (= KO), C scorings are no longer possible
  • For unannounced audits the "Star status" is awarded, this will be visible in the database as well as on the certificate
  • Audit requirements are now combined in 5 instead of 6 chapters; there are 234 requirements compared to the 237 in version 7, 5 of these requirements are new and eight have been combined or deleted
  • A Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) can now be mentioned on the certificate
  • The word "audit" is used again, "assessment" is therefore history
  • Throughout the standard, words such as "available," "are in place," or "implemented" are replaced with the three related terms "documented, implemented, and maintained."
  • Throughout the text, frequencies such as "regular" and "annual" are replaced by exact time periods (12 months, 3 months)
  • "Food safety and product quality" is often replaced with the four related terms "food safety, product quality, legality and authenticity"

 

Part 3: An overview of all important changes

Note: The sections written in the regular format represent the original text from theIFS Food 8 Standard. The main changes in content are marked in bold in this article. The passages written in italics were written by DQS auditor Marion Brust and put the changes into context for you.  The order in which the changes are explained corresponds to that of the IFS Food 8 Standard. 

 

1.Governance and commitment

1.1.1     The senior management shall develop, implement and maintain a corporate policy, which shall include, at a minimum:

  • food safety, product quality, legality and authenticity
  • Customer focus
  • food safety culture
  • Sustainability

This corporate policy shall be communicated to all employees and shall be broken down into specific objectives for the relevant departments

Objectives about food safety culture shall include, at a minimum, communication about food safety policies and responsibilities, training, employee feedback on food safety related issues and performance measurement.

New in this requirement is the demand for considering product legality, authenticity as well as sustainability to already be included in the corporate policy.

In addition, the four elements of food safety culture are listed, every one of them must have assigned objectives.

 

1.2.6     The senior management shall ensure that the certification body is informed of any changes that may affect the company’s ability to conform to the certification requirements. This shall include, at a minimum:

  • any legal entity name change
  • any production site location change         

For the following specific situations:

  • any product recall
  • any product recall and/or withdrawal decided by authorities for food safety and/or food fraud reasons
  •  any visit from authorities which results in mandatory action connected to food safety, and/or food fraud

the certification body shall be informed within three (3) working days.

This section clarifies at what point the certification body must be informed following complaints from authorities.

 

1.3                   (V7) Customer focus was moved to chapter 4.1.1.

1.3.1     The senior management shall ensure that the food safety and quality management system is reviewed. This activity shall be planned within a 12-month period and its execution shall not exceed 15 months. Such reviews shall include, at a minimum:

  • a review of objectives and policies including elements of food safety culture
  • results of audits and site inspections
  • positive and negative customer feedback
  • process compliance
  • food fraud assessment outcome
  • food defence assessment outcome
  • compliance issues
  • status of corrections and corrective actions
  • notifications from authorities

After there had been repeated difficulties in the past with the availability of the complete management review, the IFS has precisely defined the period of time in this standard.

In addition, the Food Fraud and Food Defence assessments are explicitly listed. A new feature is the review of compliance issues, which refers to legal compliance.

2. Food Safety and Quality Management System

2.1.2.1  Records and documented information shall be legible, properly completed and genuine. They shall be maintained in a way that subsequent revision or amendment is prohibited. If records are documented electronically, a system shall be maintained to ensure that only authorised personnel have access to create or amend those records (e.g., password protection).

Here, something that is self-evident in itself was included in the requirement. The documents shall be completed properly.

 

2.3.4.1  A flow diagram shall be documented and maintained for each product, or product group, and for all variations of the processes and sub-processes (including rework and reprocessing). The flow diagram shall identify every step and each control measure defined for CCPs and other control measures. It shall be dated, and in the event of any change, shall be updated.

It is clearly emphasized that all process steps and each control measure must be shown in the flow diagram.

 

NEW: 2.3.11.1 Procedures of validation, including revalidation after any modification that can impact food safety, shall be documented, implemented and maintained to ensure that the HACCP plan is suitable to effectively control the identified hazards.

The validation of the HACCP plan, from Codex Alimentarius (version 2020), has been newly included in the standard. Note: For already existing HACCP plans, continuously performed and documented verification procedures can serve as part of the validation evidence.

 

2.3.12.1            Documentation and records related to the HACCP plan, for example:

  • hazard analysis
  • determination of control measures defined for CCPs and other control measures
  • determination of critical limits
  • Processes
  • procedures
  • outcome of control measures defined for CCPs and other control measure monitoring activities
  •  training records of the personnel in charge of the CCP monitoring
  •  observed deviations and non-conformities and implemented corrective actions shall be available.  

The list of evidence was extended to include the training of persons entrusted with CCP monitoring and a distinction was also made between deviation and non-conformity.

3.         Resource Management

3.2.1 Risk-based requirements relating to personal hygiene shall be documented, implemented and maintained and shall include, at a minimum, the following areas:

  • hair and beards.
  • protective clothing (including their conditions of use in staff facilities)
  • hand washing, disinfection and hygiene
  • eating, drinking, smoking/vaping or other use of tobacco
  • actions to be taken in case of cuts or skin abrasions)
  • fingernails, jewellery, false nails/eyelashes and personal belongings (including medicines)
  • notification of infectious diseases and conditions impacting food safety via a medical screening procedure.

The requirements were adapted to the changed customary practices; with this version, vaporizing e-cigarettes as well as false nails and eyelashes must be included in the personal hygiene specifications.

 

3.2.3 Compliance with personal hygiene requirements shall be monitored with a frequency based on risks, but at least once within a 3-month period.

This is a significant tightening, both requiring a risk analysis and a review at least every 3 months instead of regularly.

 

NEW 3.2.4 (replaced 3.4.8) A risk-based program shall be implemented and maintained to control the effectiveness of hand hygiene.

This requirement was newly included. Therefore, the previous requirement 3.2.3 does not refer to hand hygiene, but to the whole concept of personal hygiene. Hand hygiene includes more than washing your hands.

 

3.2.6 Cuts and skin abrasions shall be covered with a plaster/bandage that shall not pose contamination risks. Plasters/bandages shall be waterproof and coloured differently from the product colour. Where appropriate:

  • plasters/bandages shall contain a metal strip
  • single use gloves shall be worn.

Here, the requirements for plaster/bandages were extended to include a lack of contamination risk, as well as the requirement for a waterproof material.

 

3.3.1 Documented training and/or instruction programs shall be implemented with respect to the product and process requirements and the training needs of the employees, based on their job, and shall include:

  • training contents
  • training frequency
  • employee tasks
  • languages
  • qualified trainer/tutor
  • evaluation of training effectiveness

In addition to the known requirement in 3.3.3 for a training effectiveness process, an evaluation of training effectiveness is expected here.

 

3.4.3     Changing rooms shall be located to allow direct access to the areas where unpacked food products are handled. When infrastructure does not allow it, alternative measures shall be implemented and maintained to minimise product contamination risks. Outdoor clothing and protective clothing shall be stored separately unless alternative measures are implemented and maintained to prevent contamination risks.

Here, it was made clear that the listed measures only apply when accessing rooms with unpacked food products. This addition was not available in version 7.

 

4. Operational processes

4.1.3 KO N° 4: Where there are customer agreements related to:

  • product recipe (including raw materials characteristics)
  • process
  • technological requirements
  • testing and monitoring plans
  • packaging
  • labelling

these shall be complied with.

Customer requirements regarding test and monitoring plans were newly included in this KO requirement. Compliance with these must now be demonstrated during the audit.

 

4.1.4 In accordance with customer requirements, the senior management shall inform their affected customers, as soon as possible, of any issue related to product safety or legality, including deviations and non-conformities identified by competent authorities

The requirement to report incidents was tightened by also reporting deviations and not only non-conformities.

 

4.2.1.5 Where products are requested to be labelled and/or promoted with a claim or where certain methods of treatment or production are excluded, measures shall be implemented to demonstrate compliance with such a statement.

Here, the wording has been changed from a "verifiable procedure" to compliance with the requirement. Compliance is also a new requirement in the management review.

 

4.3.1     A procedure for the development or modification of products and/or processes shall be documented, implemented and maintained and shall include, at a minimum, a hazard analysis and assessment of associated risks.

A documented procedure is now required for product development.

 

4.3.3 The development and/or modification process shall result in specifications about formulation, rework, packaging materials, manufacturing processes and comply with food safety, product quality, legality, authenticity and customer requirements. This includes factory trials, product testing and process monitoring. The progress and results of product development/modification shall be recorded.

Product development was expanded to include rework, packaging materials as well as customer requirements and process monitoring.

 

4.3.5     Recommendations for preparation and/or instructions for use of food products related to food safety and/or product quality shall be validated and documented.

In this case, the preparation recommendations only need to be validated if they are relevant to food safety or product quality.

 

4.4. Purchasing

Requirements 4.4.1-4.4.5 (V7) have been recompiled under items 4.4.1-4.4.3 (V8); in terms of content, the risk-based approach has been strengthened; for example, only those purchased services that have an impact on food safety and product quality need to be assessed.

 

4.5 Product packaging

Based on risks and intended use, key parameters for the packaging materials shall be defined in detailed specifications complying with the current relevant legislation and other relevant hazards or risks.

Suitability of the food contact packaging materials and existence of functional barrier(s) shall be validated for each relevant product. It shall be monitored and demonstrated by test/analysis, for example:

  • organoleptic tests
  • storage tests
  • chemical analyses
  • migration test results

Validating the suitability of packaging materials in addition to monitoring is now included.

 

4.5.3     Used packaging and labelling shall correspond to the product being packed and shall comply with agreed customer product specifications Labelling information shall be legible and indelibleThis shall be monitored and documented at least at the start and end of a production run as well as at every product changeover.

This requirement clarified the requirements for labelling as well as the documentation frequency of packaging control.

 

4.7.1     All external areas of the factory shall be clean, tidy, designed and maintained in a way to prevent contamination. Where natural drainage is inadequate, a suitable drainage system shall be installed.

Outdoor areas shall be designed to make contamination unlikely.

 

4.8.1 The site plan must be extended to include "intermediate products, including post-processing”.

 

4.10.3   Cleaning and disinfection activities shall be documented and such records shall be verified by a responsible designated person in the company.

Attention, new: A 4-eyes principle is required for the cleaning protocols

 

4.10.7 The sampling plan for verifying the effectiveness of cleaning and disinfection measures must now be based on risk.

 

New: 4.12.3      All chemicals within the site shall be fit for purpose, labelled, stored and handled in a way not to pose contamination risks.

 

4.12.4   Where metal and/or other foreign material detectors are required, they shall be installed to ensure maximum efficiency of detection to prevent subsequent contamination. Detectors shall be subjected to maintenance to avoid malfunction at least once within a 12-month period, or whenever significant changes occur.

A new feature is the mandatory maintenance of metal and foreign object detectors every 12 months.

 

4.12.5   The accuracy of all equipment and methods designed to detect and/or eliminate foreign materials shall be specified. Functionality tests of such equipment and methods shall be carried out on a risk-based frequency. In case of malfunction or failure, the impact on products and processes shall be assessed.

Instead of "regular" functionality tests, these are now to be carried out on a risk basis. In addition, in the event of a malfunction, not the corrective measures shall be documented, but rather the impact on the products and processes shall be assessed.

 

4.16.1 The maintenance plan was extended to include storage premises

 

4.17.1   Equipment shall be suitably designed and defined for the intended use. Before commissioning new equipment, compliance with food safety, product quality, legality, authenticity and customer requirements shall be validated.

Validation of compliance for new equipment was newly included.

 

4.18.1 KO N° 7: A traceability system shall be documented, implemented and maintained that enables the identification of product lots and their relation to batches of raw materials, and food contact packaging materials, and/or materials carrying legal and/or relevant food safety information. The traceability system shall incorporate all relevant records of:

  • receipt
  • processing at all steps
  • use of rework
  • distribution

Traceability shall be ensured and documented until delivery to customer.

Attention: This means that labels or outer packaging for multipacks or similar must also be integrated into the traceability.

 

4.18.2 The traceability system, including mass balance, shall be tested at least once within a 12-month period or whenever significant changes occur. The test samples shall reflect the complexity of the company’s product range. The test records shall demonstrate upstream and downstream traceability (from delivered products to raw materials, and vice versa).

A new requirement is that for internal tests a mass balance must be documented.

 

4.19.1   For all raw materials, a risk assessment shall be performed to identify allergens requiring declarations, including accidental or technically unavoidable cross-contaminations of legally declared allergens and traces. This information shall be available and relevant to the country/ies of sale of the finished products and shall be documented and maintained for all raw materials. A continuously up to date listing of all raw materials containing allergens used on the premises shall be maintained. This shall also identify all blends and formulas to which such raw materials containing allergens are added.

Once again, a risk-based approach is required; in addition, the potential for cross-contamination must be considered.

 

4.19.2 in the potential risks for cross-contamination, "personnel (including contractors and visitors)" was added.

 

4.21.2 (6.2 in V7) A food defence procedure and plan shall be documented, implemented and maintained to identify potential threats and define food defence measures. This shall include, at a minimum:

  • legal requirements
  • identification of critical areas and/or practices and policy of access by employees
  • visitors and contractors
  • how to manage external inspections and regulatory visits
  • any other appropriate control measures.

Chapter 6 from V7 was integrated into the V8 standard as Chapter 4.21. Managing external inspections and regulatory visits is now to be included in the procedural instructions. 

 

5 . Measurements, analysis, improvements

5.1.1     KO N° 8: An effective internal audit program shall be documented, implemented and maintained and shall ensure, at a minimum, that all the requirements of the IFS Standard are audited. This activity shall be planned within a 12-month period and its execution shall not exceed 15 months. The company shall have a risk assessment in place where activities, which are critical to food safety and product quality shall be audited more frequently.

It shall also apply to off-site storage locations owned or rented by the company.

Attention: this means that all requirements must be audited at least every 12 months (maximum 15 months). Activities with increased risk must consequently be audited more often than once a year.

 

5.1.3     Internal audits shall be documented and results communicated to the senior management and to the persons responsible for the concerned activities. Compliances, deviations and non-conformities shall be documented and communicated to the relevant persons.

As compared to version 7, it is now also required to document conformities as well as deviations and non-conformities in addition to the necessary corrective actions. In future, audit reports must contain significantly more information about the audit performed.

 

5.3.2     Process parameters (temperature, time, pressure, chemical properties, etc.) which are essential to ensure the food safety and product quality shall be monitored, recorded continuously and/or at appropriate intervals and secured against unauthorised access and/or change.

This means that relevant parameters, e.g., in IT systems, must be protected against access by unauthorized persons by means of passwords or log-in.

 

NEW 5.6.2 Based on risks, the criteria for environmental monitoring program shall be documented, implemented and maintained.

 

5.6.5     Results of analyses shall be evaluated in a timely manner by competent personnel. Immediate corrections shall be implemented for any unsatisfactory results. Based on risks and legal requirements, the frequency for review of the testing and monitoring plan results shall be defined in order to identify trends. When unsatisfactory trends are identified, the impact on processes and products as well as the need for actions shall be assessed.

This requirement reinforces the need for prompt evaluation of survey results to produce up-to-date, relevant trend analyses and their assessment.

 

5.11.1 A procedure for the management of corrections and corrective actions shall be documented, implemented and maintained for the recording, analysis, and communication to the relevant persons of deviations, non-conformities and non-conforming products, with the objective to close the deviations and/or non-conformities and avoid recurrences via corrective actions. This shall include a root cause analysis, at least for deviations and non-conformities related to safety, legality, authenticity and/or recurrence of deviations and non-conformities.

Here, not only are corrections and communication of the facts newly included, but a root cause analysis also becomes mandatory for certain cases.

 

NEW 5.11.2 Where deviations and non-conformities are identified, corrections shall be implemented.

Corrections have been added to the standard here.

 

In principle, the glossary (Appendix 12) should also be observed, as these definitions clarify some standard requirements.

The new IFS Food Standard Version 8 is available for free download on the IFS website.

 

Part 4: Timeline and transition

From 1 October 2023, the new V8 standard can be audited voluntarily. Version 8 is mandatory (except in special cases) as of 1 January 2024.  In case of unannounced audits, audits must be performed in accordance with version 8 if the time window starts on or after 1 October 2023.

 

DQS - Your partner for IFS Food 8 certification

DQS is an accredited certification body for the IFS Food 8 Standard. With qualified auditors all over the world we are at your disposal. Contact us - we will be happy to discuss your plans!

Author
Dipl. Ing. Marion Brust

After studying food technology and biotechnology at the Technical University of Munich/Weihenstephan, Ms. Brust worked in various areas of product and quality management for an international food company. As early as 1992, she received external training there as an auditor for IS0 9001 as well as an internal auditor.

For 20 years she has been approved by DQS as a freelance auditor for various quality management and food safety standards. She is also an auditor for PEFC-CoC and QMR of a small certification body for wood and forest.

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