GFSI Scheme Provisions to COVID-19 Audit Disruptions

22 Apr
food safety audit

Food Safety

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The following information outlines provisions the GFSI-benchmarked schemes are taking to account for audit disruptions due to COVID-19, as of April 21, 2020.

FSSC 22000

Re-Certification Audits (V5 upgrade audits)

  • A risk assessment will be completed.
  • The decision from the risk assessment could lead to extension to the current V4.1 Certificate of up to 6 months.
  • The full V5 re-certification audit will need to take place within 6 months.
  • The new V5 certificate will have dates aligned with the current certification cycle.

Surveillance Audits (V5 upgrade audits)

  • A risk assessment will be completed.
  • The decision from the risk assessment could lead to:
    • Maintaining the current V4.1 Certificate
    • Suspending the V4.1 Certificate
    • Postponement of the surveillance/periodical V5 upgrade audit by a maximum of 6 months.


Recertification Audit

Where the site is operational, but a physical audit cannot occur on or before the due date and will result in an existing certificate expiring, a certificate extension of up to 6 months validity may be issued based on:

  • The successful completion of a risk assessment by the certification body confirming it is appropriate to continue certification.
  • The certification body completing a discussion with the site and review of procedures in place to establish the impact of COVID-19 extraordinary circumstances to the site operations and the effective implementation of an emergency response plan.
    • Certifications can only be extended by the current certification body.
    • Sites with C & D grades may not be extended.
    • For BRCGS Packaging, any extended certificates will be against Version 5.


IFS is subject to the decisions of local authorities and cannot provide a general statement (each situation need to be assessed individually). In the case that an audit cannot be performed on time:

  • This will result in the certificate not being renewed.
  • An exceptional extension of the existing IFS Certificates is not possible.

Due to precautions taken by local authorities, it may not be possible to carry out audits. In this case, existing IFS certificates remain valid until the end of their term and then lose their regular validity.

IFS appeals to retailers and their suppliers to contact and find bilateral solutions so that supplier contracts can be maintained. The IFS will make it visible in the database if IFS certificates could not be renewed due to COVID-19.


A certifying body can request to SQF for a site to have a one-time 6-month extension from the certificate expiration date.

  • Request may not occur until site is within the audit window of the audit.
  • Certifying body will conduct a risk assessment to understand and determine if there is a need to extend the certificate following the IAF Informative Document for Management of Extraordinary Events or Circumstances Affecting ABs, CABs, and Certified Organizations (IAF ID 3:2001).
  • Certifying body will submit a change request and Notification Form to SQF for approval.
  • Requests will be considered by the SQF Compliance Manager in consultation with the technical team and applicable certifying body and/or legal counsel.
  • If the risk assessment identified a low risk of continued certification for a site, SQF will approve and certifying body will extend the expiration date for 6 months from the recertification date.
  • Sites that are in the process of switching to a new certifying body, the certifying body that holds the current site’s certificate will be required to conduct the risk assessment to determine the risk level to the existing certificate.
  • Unannounced audits can be waived up to 5/31/2020. Any waived must be conducted in 2021.

KTL will continue to track these changes and their impacts on the food industry. We hope KTL can be a trusted resource on many levels now and as we eventually return to “business as usual”.

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