Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few common questions about the Safe Feed/Safe Food (SF/SF) certification programs. If you do not see your question, please contact us here.


About Our Programs

The SF/SF certification program is viewed favorably by regulators, with U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials indicating that it is used as a risk-ranking variable, and certified companies are likely to see fewer and/or shorter inspections. It is also a helpful tool in preparing facilities to comply with regulations published under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Click here to see how the SF/SF program exceeds the FDA's guidelines.

Although the SF/SF certification program is designed on HACCP principles, it is not a formal HACCP system. It will not qualify for entry into the European Union under the feed hygiene regulations (EU 183/2005). However, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) has developed an international version of the SF/SF certification program, which you can learn more about here.


Getting Started

There are a number of resources available to help you get on your way to certification. The AFIA recommends reviewing the individual program pages – FSC36, FSC34, FSC32 and International SF/SF – for information on how to get started as well as to review the applicable guidance documents. Those requiring assistance can contact the AFIA or Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) here.

Another resource that is helpful is the AFIA’s Feed Manufacturing Technology, which is a great online reference tool for everyday operations, covering topics such as employee safety and health, materials handling and storage, sanitation and pest management, and quality assurance. Learn more on subscription options here>>

Yes. AFIA membership is not required, but joining the association can certainly benefit your company in keeping abreast of the latest regulatory changes impacting the animal food industry and access to staff expertise. Both AFIA members and nonmembers are encouraged to become involved in the SF/SF program and the fees are the same.

The major difference between the FSC36 Safe Feed/Safe Food standard program and FSC34 Manufacture of Animal Feed program is that FSC34 is benchmarked by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), meaning it meets the internationally accepted standards for food safety within the food retail industry. FSC34 requires an annual audit and facilities need a HACCP plan in place. The FSC36 only requires the feed safety plan to utilize risk-based principles – hazard identification and control procedures, where necessary. In addition, the FSC34 program will require shelf-life trials and additional document controls, such as tracking when edits are made to the program.

Companies interested in using a certification program that is GFSI-benchmarked, should consider the FSC34 program.


Anticipating Inspections

The amount of time is takes for a facility to become certified varies depending on how quickly they select a certifying body, prepare their facility for the audit, schedule and complete the audit, ranging anywhere from 60-150 days. See a typical timeline here.

The auditors are feed-industry experts with an average of 25 years of experience in one or more of the following areas: quality, regulations or manufacturing.

Inspections are conducted every two years for the FSC36 program. In non-audit years, companies are required to perform a surveillance audit, which must be signed by the company’s certifying body. The certifying body will issue the certificate upon successful completion.

The FSC32 and FSC34 programs require annual on-site audits. And, the I-SF/SF audits are conducted every three years.


Achieving Certification

Once the SF/SF certification process is complete, the certifying body will notify you by mailing the certificate. However, if there are no deficiencies during the audit, the auditor may inform the facility contact on the spot that the facility passed.

Not necessarily. Certification is a pass or fail process. Either a facility is fully certified or it is not. If the application process or audit is only partially complete, the facility will not be certified. An auditor may identify nonconformances during the audit, which need to be addressed before certification can happen. If there are minor changes, the auditor will await delivery of additional answers or paperwork. If the deficiencies are sufficient to deny certification, the company may choose to submit an appeal.


Maintaining Certification

If a product withdrawal or recall is implemented, your certification body and the AFIA must be notified within 24 hours. Be prepared to provide answers to similar questions as follows:

  • Product being recalled?
  • Date(s) of production?
  • Amount of product affected?
  • Amount of affected product identified?
  • Disposition of affected product?
  • Correction?
  • Corrective action?

Failure to inform the certification body of regulatory nonconformance findings (e.g., recalls) by federal, state or local agencies and provide adequate information that nonconformance findings have been properly addressed or corrected will result in a suspended certification. Additional recall information can be found in each program’s guidance documents/codes.

The AFIA will notify FSC36 companies at least 30 days in advance of any changes and the AFIA may allow an implementation period, depending on the impact of the required changes.

For companies due for the biennial audit, the SQFI will send a renewal notice reminder approximately three months prior to the expiration date of the certificate. This will be your notice that your facility is due for an inspection.

For firms not needing the biennial audit, SQFI will send a renewal notice reminder approximately three months prior to the certificate expiration date. Prior to expiration, firms are required to perform an online self-surveillance audit and submit the results for review. If the review is satisfactory, a new certificate will be issued by the certifying body.

For more information, see our page on renewals.


Paying the Bills

The cost depends on a couple of factors. The registration and licensing fee is based on gross sales – for a list of the rates, click here. During the year the facility has an on-site inspection, there is a facility audit fee from the certifying body, plus actual travel costs. See the program pages for more specific fee information – FSC36, FSC34, FSC32 and I-SF/SF.

Checks for the registration and licensing fee for FSC36, FSC24 and FSC32 should be made payable to the Safe Quality Food Institute and can be paid online via their assessment database. When you register online, you will have the option to pay via credit card. The audit fee and travel expenses will be invoiced separately by the certifying body.

Checks for the I-SF/SF program should be made payable to the “American Feed Industry Association.” Learn how to submit payment for I-SF/SF here.