Ebook Template

IFS Food

How to Successfully Pass the Audit

The only book available on the market explaining whole IFS Food version 6 standard, requirement by requirement. Ideal guide for implementation of the standard. Practical approach with large number of non conformities and deviations examples based on experiences from real IFS Food certification audits across Europe.




based on version 6 of the standard


examples of non conformities and deviations raised during audits


options – printed, ebook,
Amazon Kindle version

What you will learn

GFSI Approved Standards

What is Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and how individual standards are approved against GFSI`s Guidance document? Which standards are approved by GFSI for certification in food industry?

Preparation for Audit

How to prepare for the audit? How to select the right certification body? How the audit price is set based on the audit duration and how to calculate the audit duration? What is the audit scope? Is pre-audit required? When and how to apply for certification?

IFS Standards Family

Which individual standards belong to the International Featured Standards (IFS) family? Where they may be applied?

IFS Audit Protocol

How the audit is performed on site? What are individual steps of the audit? How to communicate with auditors? May consultant be present during the audit and under which conditions?

Requirements of the
IFS Food Standard

What are individual IFS Food Standard requirements and how to implement them in practice? What are commonly found deviations and non-conformities during the audits?

Steps after the Audit

What types of findings auditor rise during the audit? What are deviations, major non-conformity or K.O. non-conformity? What are next steps to handle deviations and non-conformities? When the follow-up audit is required? When the whole audit needs to be repeated? How to fill the action plan before the certificate is issued?

IFS Portal

What is IFS Food portal and which information are available for retailers? How to get login details? How to unlock detailed information? How to manage certification body change on the IFS portal?

Sample pages from book

Following sample pages are first parts of the individual selected chapters of the book.


  1.      Introduction
  2. 1. GFSI and GFSI Approved Standards
    1. 1.1 GFSI
    2. 1.2 GFSI Guidance Document
    3. 1.3 GFSI Approved Standards
  3. 2. IFS Standards
    1. 2.1 IFS Food
    2. 2.2 IFS Logistics
    3. 2.3 IFS Broker
    4. 2.4 IFS Cash&Carry/Wholesale
    5. 2.5 IFS HPC
  4. 3. First Audit Preparation
    1. 3.1 Selection of Correct Standard
    2. 3.2 Selection of Certification Body
    3. 3.3 Audit Duration Calculation
    4. 3.4 Certification Contract - Contractual Terms and Conditions
    5. 3.5 Specification of Scope of Certification
    6. 3.6 When Certification Audit May Be Started
    7. 3.7 Pre-Audit
  5. 4. Requirements of IFS Food Standard
    1. 1 Senior Management Responsibility
    2. 2 Quality and Food Safety Management System
    3. 3 Resource Management
    4. 4 Planning and Production Process
    5. 5 Measurements, Analysis, Improvements
    6. 6 Food Defence and External Inspections
  6. 5. Audit Process
    1. 5.1 Audit Planning
    2. 5.2 Opening Meeting
    3. 5.3 Audit on Site
    4. 5.4 Cooperation with Auditor
    5. 5.5 Consultants at Audit
    6. 5.6 Closing Meeting
  7. 6. Audit Findings and Post-Audit Activities
    1. 6.1 Classification of Findings
    2. 6.2 Post-Audit Activities, Audit Report and Certificate
    3. 6.3 Procedure in Case of KO Issue or Major Non-Conformities
  8. 7. IFS Portal
    1. 7.1 Role of IFS Portal
    2. 7.2 Access to IFS Portal
    3. 7.3 Public and Non-Public Data
  9. 8. Further Education Options
    1. 8.1 IFS Academy
    2. 8.2 QUALIFOOD Academy

1 GFSI and GFSI Approved Standards

1.1 GFSI

The food industry and especially systems used to ensure food safety, quality and legality are certainly approached by the general public with raised sentiments. Eating safe and healthy food is important for everyone. For that reason the retailers, especially considering their own brand food (private labels), seek to provide maximum protection against potential issues connected with food harmful to human health and the related media interest.

Private labels first sold in Europe, especially in Great Britain, where the first retailer owned standards were issued, under the now unified the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety. Later on the private labels were introduced in all developed countries. The situation in Europe is shown by the picture taken from the web site of the Private Label Manufacturer Association (PLMA). The picture shows that private labels perform a significant role (above 20% of all sales) in most of the European countries. The share of private labels range around 50% of all food sold and in even higher in Great Britain, Switzerland and Spain.

In the beginning British retailers audited their suppliers according to their own standards. This was demanding both for the retailers and for their suppliers, who had to undergo even 10 to 20 audits a year and often found it hard to meet the requirements of different auditors and different standards, which obviously differed in many areas. That is why the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) was established as association of major retailers and food manufacturers. Major world retailers and food manufacturers have their representatives in GFSI. The supreme body of GFSI is Board of Directors consisting of 25 representatives of retailers and 25 representatives of food manufacturers.

1.2 GFSI Guidance Document

GFSI keep a document defining requirements to standards on the basis of which the certification companies audit and certify food manufacturers and other parts of the food chain (GFSI Guidance Document).The GFSI Guidance Document is not used as standard for these certifications.

1.3 GFSI Approved Standards

The standard approved by GFSI is accepted by most retailers. GFSI approved standards for food manufacture include IFS Food, BRC Global Standard for Food Safety, and the recent development, FSSC22000 plus some other, in Europe not so frequently used standards.

In comparison to ISO standards the GFSI approved standards place increased emphasis on a unified approach of different certification authorities and competency of auditors. In the case of ISO standards these areas are only checked independently by the accreditation body. In the case of standards such as IFS or BRC the certification bodies are under strict control of the standard owners, to whom they must prove competency to each auditor before his/her approval. This process is completed according to the IFS standard. The standard owner organises and assesses the compulsory examination (written and oral) of auditor. Similarly for the new version 6 of BRC Global Standard for Food Safety each auditor must sit for a test assessed by the British Retailer Consortium. Furthermore owners of IFS and BRC standards perform random checks of the audit reports and a number of other indicators, independent audits of certification bodies and their customers, food manufacturers. If results are unsatisfactory, a certification body audit or control audit by BRC or IFS the owner of the standard always assesses validity of the issued certificates. Therefore to avoid problems with later unrecognized validity of a certificate we strongly recommend careful selection of the certification body. As always the cheapest doesn't always mean the best.

GFSI approved standards have also been issued for the primary agricultural production (the best-known example of this category is the GlobalGAP standard) and other areas are currently under scrutiny, such as packaging material manufacture, logistics, feed manufacture etc. where some standards already exist such as BRC Packaging, FSSC22000 using PAS 223 document for packaging material manufacturers, IFS Logistics and BRC Storage&Distribution for food storage and distribution, IFS Broker for sales offices and IFS Cash&Carry/Wholesale for store operators. These above mentioned standards are expected to be among the first GFSI approved standards for these areas.

1.3.1 BRC Global Standard for Food Safety

As follows from the name of the standard, it was developed by the organisation called British Retail Consortium (BRC) with offices in London.

The standard was originally issued in 1998 and has been periodically updated since to reflect the newest views and knowledge in the area of food safety. At present the currently valid version of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety is no 6 issued in July 2011 (BRC Food). The standard is also available several language versions and can be obtained from the British standard dealer The Stationary Office Limited.

The BRC Food standard stipulates requirements for food manufacture. The certification only applies to food products produced in the audited factory. The standard does not apply to wholesale, import and distribution of food not manufactured by the audited plant. The standard also does not apply to primary agricultural production.

There is a whole group of BRC standards. In addition to BRC Food for food production they include BRC Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials, BRC Global Standard for Storage and Distribution and BRC Global Standard for Consumer Products. Except the latter, applicable to household and personnel care products, all BRC standards are linked to food manufacture and are mutually applicable to allow for certification of all parts of the chain from food production and packaging, to storage of packaged food and their transport to stores. There is no BRC standard for primary agricultural production. The Globalgap is the most popular of the numerous standards in this area.

Certification according to BRC Food is mainly required by retailers with central offices in Great Britain and some other countries, e.g. Scandinavia, USA, some countries in Asia, etc.

BRC Food audits are performed every 6 - 12 months, depending on the result of the previous audit. The certification body is required to proof of the implementation of corrective actions for all identified non-conformities before the BRC certificate is issued. This is rather difficult for the certificated organisation as they have relatively little time. Delivery of the proof to the certification body or a revisit of the auditor on the site for the corrective actions assessment must be completed in 28 days from completion of the audit. This is where the BRC standard differs from the other GFSI approved standards or certification schemes (such as IFS Food or FSSC22000), where the certificate is issued on the basis of the respective action plan in case of absence of major non-conformities. The proposed corrective actions may then be implemented by the audited organisation in the course of the current year until the next audit in the context of which the auditor checks them on site.

Since January 2012 the applicable version of BRC Food standard is no 6 of July 2011.

1.3.2 IFS Food

Certification according to IFS Food is required mostly by retailers with central offices in Germany, Austria, France and Italy but the standard is used globally. IFS Food audits are performed every 12 months.

Details about IFS Food standard are specified in the following chapters hereof.

Since 1 July 2012 all audits pursuant to IFS Food have been performed according to release 6 of January 2012.

1.3.3 FSSC22000

The certification scheme FSSC22000 (sometimes abbreviated to FX22000) is operated by the Dutch Foundation for Food Safety Certification. The normative document used for FSSC22000 certifications is represented by the combination of ISO 22000 and a document specifying detailed requirements for the so called "necessary prerequisites" in the certified area. For the purpose of food production this was the British Public Specification PAS 220, later replaced by ISO/TS 22002-1. For package manufacture this is PAS 223, and for feedstuff production PAS 222. further extensions are assumed for activities such as catering, agricultural production etc. In the course of time further PAS documents will be replaced by ISO/TS 22002-x standards.

Unlike BRC and IFS standards the FSSC2200 certification scheme has not been supported by commercial chains. PAS documents have been created by the European Confederation of Food and Drink Industries (CIAA) and supra-national food producers such as Danone, Kraft, Nestlé or Unilever.

The advantages of the FSSC22000 certification scheme is its accessibility: All documents for the certified organisations and the certification authorities are available for free download on the web site of the scheme owner (www.fssc22000.com) with a list of contracted certification authorities authorised to perform FSSC22000 certification and a list of the certified entities.

Another advantage of FSSC22000 is the use of the international standard ISO 22000, with its unified structure with standards ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and other, allowing for mutual integration in organisations needing certification according to more than one standard or organisations transferred from ISO 9001 or ISO22000 to FSSC22000.

Unlike BRC and IFS, FSC22000 allows for higher flexibility in many areas and supports application of hazard analysis and takes into consideration of the specifics of the given operation for the decision about the way to introduce the standard requirements.

FSSC22000 is also the only GFSI approved certification scheme for food manufacturers. Accreditation may be obtained from the Czech Institute for Accreditation, while BRC and IFS require accreditation by a foreign accreditation authority.

Therefore for the purpose of food production, in addition to the requirements of ISO 22000 requirements of ISO/TS 22002-1 (the standard is also available in the Czech version of November 2010) must also be introduced and maintained.

1.3.4 SQF 2000

SQF 2000 for food production and a similar standard, SQF 1000 for basic agricultural production, are American standards owned by the SQF Institute. These standards are mainly used in the U.S.A., and, to a smaller extent, in Australia and certain other countries. Use in Europe is negligible. When the period when this book was written, i.e. in July 2012, no organisation with valid SQF 2000 or SQF 1000 certificate was registered in the SQF database for the Czech and Slovak Republics.

1.3.5 GRMS

The Global Red Meat Scheme (GRMS) is a Danish scheme owned by the Danish Agriculture &Meat Council and existing since 2006 with limited spread and coverage (transport, stabling, stunning, slaughter, meat cutting and meat and meat product handling).

1.3.6 Synergy 22000

Like FSSC22000 Synergy 22000 is based on ISO 22000 standard extended with stipulation of requirements for the necessary assumptions. Synergy 22000 is a Swiss certification scheme owned by Synergy Global Standardisation Services. The nature of the scheme is similar to FSSC22000 with the only difference in limited support by supra-national manufacturers and some commercial chains in comparison to FSSC22000, therefore occurrence of Synergy 22000 in the global framework is not likely.

1.3.7 PrimusGFS

PrimusGFS is a Mexican certification scheme owned by Azzule Systems and designed for food production and primary agricultural production. Like Synergy 22000 and SQF 2000/1000 or GMRS this scheme has not been applied globally in wider scale.

1.3.8 Standards for Primary Agricultural Production

Two of the above certification schemes also include basic agricultural production: SQF 1000 and PrimusGFS. Other GFSI approved standards for basic agricultural production also include the CanadaGAP (Canadian Horticultural Council on Farm Food Safety Program), the Global Agriculture Alliance Seafood Processing Standard and Globalgap. The most frequently globally used certification scheme is the German Globalgap.

2 IFS Standards

2.1 IFS Food

IFS Food is a standard for supplier audit of manufacturers of food products and only concerns companies processing food or packing bulk food products. IFS Food standard should be applied to product processing and/or if there is a risk of product contamination in the course of primary packaging.

2.2 IFS Logistics

IFS Logistics is a standard for audit of companies whose business activity includes logistics of food and non-food products such as transport, storage, distribution, loading/unloading etc. The standard applies to all kinds of activities: road, railway or boat delivery, frozen/cooled food as well as products stable in ambient atmosphere.

IFS Logistics standard therefore applies to logistic activities where contact exists only with primary food packaging (transport, packing of food products in primary packages, storage and/or distribution, transport and storage of pallets, big bags, etc.). This standard also applies to special unpacked goods such as meat in the form of carcasses, or bulk transport/in cisterns, (glucose syrup, milk, grains etc.).

If a food-processing company has its own logistics and/or transport department/activities (storage and distribution) then it will be included under the IFS standard under the special subchapter on transport and storage.

2.3 IFS Broker

IFS Broker is a standard for audits of companies such as commercial agencies, procurers or other companies not accepting products for physical handling, therefore not operating their own transport and storage facilities.

This standard applies to food products and products for household and personal care.

2.4 IFS Cash&Carry/Wholesale

IFS Cash&Carry/Wholesale is a variant of IFS Food standard for certification of retail, wholesale and cash & carry type stores. The currently valid version of the standard is No. 1 which exactly copies requirements of IFS Food Version 5 and only adapts the protocol and auditor requirements. In the course of 2013 a revision and issue of version 2 are scheduled.


IFS HPC (Household and Personal Care Products) is a standard whose title shows that its goal is certification of non-food products, such as cosmetics, toilet paper, baking foils for households etc.

4 Requirements of IFS Food Standard

3.4 Sanitary Facilities, Equipment for Personnel Hygiene and Staff Facilities

3.4.1 The company shall provide staff facilities, which shall be proportional in size, equipped for the number of personnel and designed and operated so as to minimise food safety risks. Such facilities shall be kept in clean and good condition.

3.4.2 The risk of product contamination by foreign material from staff facilities shall be evaluated and minimised. Consideration shall also be given to food brought to work by personnel and personal belongings.

3.4.3 There shall be in place rules and facilities to ensure the correct management for personnel belongings and for food brought to work by personnel, food coming from dining room and from vending machines. The food shall only be stored and/ or used in designated areas.

3.4.4. The company shall provide suitable changing rooms for personnel, contractors and visitors. Where necessary, outdoor clothing and protective clothing shall be stored separately.

3.4.5. Toilets shall not have direct access to an area where food products are handled. The toilets shall be equipped with adequate hand washing facilities. Sanitary facilities shall have adequate natural or mechanical ventilation. Mechanical airflow from a contaminated area to a clean area shall be avoided.

3.4.6. Adequate hand hygiene facilities shall be provided at access points to and within production areas, as well as at staff facilities. Based on hazard analysis and assessment of associated risks, further areas (e.g. packaging area) shall be similarly equipped.

3.4.7.Hand washing facilities shall provide as a minimum:
- running potable water at an appropriate temperature
- liquid soap
- appropriate equipment for hand drying.

3.4.8 Where highly perishable food products are handled, the following additional requirements regarding hand hygiene shall also be provided:
- hand contact-free fittings
- hand disinfection
- adequate hygiene equipments
- signage highlighting hand hygiene requirements
- waste container with hand contact-free opening.

3.4.9. Based on hazard analysis and assessment of associated risks, there shall be a program to control effectiveness of hand hygiene.

3.4.10. Changing rooms shall be situated so that they allow direct access to the areas where food products are handled. Based on hazard analysis and assessment of associated risks, exceptions shall be justified and managed.

3.4.11. Where the hazard analysis and assessment of associated risks show the necessity, cleaning facilities shall be available and used for boots, shoes and further protective clothing.

Part 3.4 summarises requirements for changing rooms, toilets, rest rooms, canteens and similar staff rooms. The size of these rooms must correspond to the company staff number. The rooms must be located and equipped as to prevent risk of contamination for the processed food. For the same reasons keep the staff rooms clean and tidy.

The situation of IFS standard is easier than of BRC where the individual zones are defined (open product, low risk, high care, high risk) with corresponding requirements for work clothes and staff facilities. IFS Food standard leaves plant zoning to the company. Analyses, knowledge and experience help the company to decide, whether to establish separate changing rooms for certain parts of the plant operations, if timing of employee access to the dining room should be introduced, or if any other solutions are required.

The changing rooms need direct access to the manufacturing areas without passing through any exterior areas. If the situation is different there should be a logical justification. Equip the changing rooms for separate storage of work clothing and personal clothing of the employees. Provide external contractors and visitors changing rooms and work clothing.

Equip entrances to the manufacturing areas from changing rooms and suitable places in the manufacturing areas (especially where the employees touch food or primary packaging) with wash basins running with hot water, liquid soap and a suitable hand dryer (such as disposable towels). When manufacturing food that is microbiologically sensitive, equip the wash basins with a hands free operated taps (with sensor or mechanical foot pedal), disinfection and a pictograms noting the reason for washing hands and showing the correct way of hand washin. These areas should not include waste baskets opened by hand near the wash basins.

At the entrances to the manufacturing areas and in other suitable places (such as at the points of transfers between parts of manufacture with different risk levels - clean and unclean section, different parts of slaughter etc.) install equipment for shoe washing and disinfection (including washing of rubber aprons if used). The standard expects the company to analyse the need for this equipment and decide their use based on hazard analysis and related risk assessment. Tourniquets are widely used for these purposes providing for simultaneous washing and disinfection of shoes and hands while only allowing the employee pass after putting his/her hands to the space for automatic dosing of the hand disinfectant. This solution minimises potential human error.

Introduce checks of effectiveness of hand washing and disinfection. There are again several ways of doing that. The line managers, usually shift leaders, routinely monitor hygienic behaviour of their workers: hand washing after contact with a contaminated surface, secondary packaging, floor, after use of the toilet, after break etc. Perform a similar control needed along with record in the form of documented internal inspections with set frequency, additionally, use more exact way less frequently, usually once in a couple of months, by swabbing hands of randomly selected employees for microbial analysis. Another way is to press hands into prepared microbial media available commercially. The company then reacts to unfavourable results of the analyses in an appropriate manner for example by additional employee training, increasing frequency of checks and repeating analysis.

There cannot be any direct access from the manufacturing area to the toilets. Also equip toilets with a suitable wash basins. The standard newly addresses ventilation, which may be either natural or mechanical. Make certain that no airflow from the toilets flows into the clean manufacturing areas. So do not have an air suction ventilator of the clean manufacture near the toilet exhaust ventilator, or an air exhaust from the toilets to the manufacturing areas.

Like changing rooms, suitably locate rest rooms and canteens. If not directly in the manufacturing building take then measures to prevent work clothing contamination on the way to the canteen or rest room and back, e.g. by changing clothes, use of shoe slips etc.

It is important to establish rules defining, where to eat, drink and smoke, and under what conditions. Prohibit bringing food and other potentially risk objects (cups, glasses, plates, cutlery etc.) to the manufacturing areas and their storage areas must be reserved (refrigerators with regularly controlled temperature and contents). The reason is to prevent cross contamination between employees, e.g. by an opened package of a salad with mayonnaise left for 6 months in a refrigerator by an employee not working with the company any longer. Temperature checks also apply to vending machines with chilled food. Their location in a suitable place, such as the rest room or the canteen. Also prevent their installation in the manufacturing area.

Employee catering is connected with the allergen issue. Some companies do not allow their employees to bring food from home containing peanuts and other nuts. For this reason it is also necessary to insist on prohibiting bring foreign food to the manufacturing area and its storage (for example not in the locker with work clothes). Also consider addressing employees' clothing in the canteen or rest room where food is consumed. This is mostly resolved by taking off overalls.

Examples of deviations and non-conformities:

  • There was a refrigerator with food and a snack table in the female changing room (deviation D)
  • The male changing room were not equipped with a sufficient number of lockers (deviation C)
  • A changing room was not kept clean - dirt in the lockers, cigarette ash, empty cigarette packs, insufficient number of lockers (deviation D)
  • There was no direct access from the changing rooms to the manufacturing area, the exception was not documented with performed hazard analysis (deviation D)
  • Refrigerator content is not checked in the rest room, expired food not found (deviation B)
  • Personal belongings of an employee were found in the cleaning chamber (between the changing room and the manufacturing hall (deviation C)
  • Internal procedure was not observed - a cup in the cleaning facilities storage room (deviation C)
  • Lockers did not allow for separation of personal and work clothes (deviation D)
  • Rules of separation of work and personal clothes were not observed in several cases (deviation C)
  • There was no hand wash basin at the entrance to the manufacturing area (deviation D)
  • Hot water was not available in the wash basin at the entrance to the manufacturing hall at the time of audit (deviation C)
  • Paper towels were not available at one of the wash basins in the meat cutting area (deviation B)
  • The water tap in the confectionery preparation room was hand operated (deviation C)

Choose a chapter

  • Content

  • Chapter 1

    - GFSI and GFSI Approved Standards
  • Chapter 2

    - IFS Standards
  • Chapter 4

    - Requirements of IFS Food Standard

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About the author

Author, Miroslav Šuška, is experienced IFS Food and BRC Food auditor who have been working for several international certification bodies and managed own DAkkS accredited certification body focused on IFS certifications. He was working number of years as Quality Manager at internationally operated food producer and later on run own consulting company where he was helping to implement quality and food safety standards to the companies as Nestlé, Yoplait, Nutrucia and many others. He performed IFS Food and others audits across Europe.

Miroslav is CEO/founder of QUALIFOOD s.r.o., the consulting company active exclusively in food sector. QUALIFOOD is publisher of Food Quality Magazine available free of charge to food safety professionals with Czech printed version circulated based on subscription in Czech Republic and Slovakia.

QUALIFOOD provides online trainings and e-books through its portal QUALIFOOD Academy.