This article was published in the December 2021 issue of Pet Food Processing. Read it and other articles from this issue in our December digital edition.
Zinpro Corporation, Eden Prairie, Minn., a leading manufacturer of performance trace mineral nutritional solutions, has been FSC36 Safe Feed/Safe Food (SF/SF) certified since the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) launched the program back in 2005. In 2019, the company switched to the International SF/SF certification.
The AFIA’s Paul Davis, Ph.D., director of quality, animal food safety and education, who oversees the SF/SF certification program, recently spoke with Fred Molenaar, Zinpro’s quality assurance manager, about why the company continues its participation in the program. Following are the questions Davis asked and Molenaar’s responses.
Davis: What was the driving reason for your facility to pursue the SF/SF certification program?
Molenaar: Since there were no well-defined state or federal rules for Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs), the SF/SF certification program helped us show our customers that we manufacture our products under controlled conditions, ensuring safe products of high quality.
Davis: What has been the biggest benefit to your company?
Molenaar: Providing confidence and trust to our customers. Our customers rely on us to assure them that they are receiving products with consistent quality that are safe to use in their premixes or final feeds.
Davis: How has this program changed over the years?
Molenaar: The program adjusted to the ever-changing requirements of the industry and government. Specifically, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules for CGMPs and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) have been addressed well in the SF/SF program and by the AFIA in general. Adding the International SF/SF certification has also made it a valuable program outside of the United States. We were able to combine it with our FAMI-QS certificate, decreasing the audit load for our facilities.
Davis: Do you feel the program has helped your facility come into compliance with new regulations?
Molenaar: Yes, the SF/SF program has helped us stay compliant and adapt to FSMA rules. The support from the AFIA on the food safety plan and how SF/SF adapted to that requirement has been a great asset.
Davis: Has the program helped your company comply with regulatory changes emerging from the coronavirus pandemic?
Molenaar: We haven’t had to deal with too many regulatory changes emerging from the pandemic yet. The big changes for us have been the possibility to be audited remotely, which has been a great accommodation, and the way we work with drivers when they deliver our ingredients. For example, we updated our visitor policy and have worked to build social distancing requirements into the delivery process to ensure everyone stays safe.
Davis: It takes time and resources to pull together the materials for annual renewal. How do you weigh the costs and benefits?
Molenaar: It’s difficult to put a price tag on earning trust from our customers. The SF/SF program has been instrumental in helping us do just that and the cost seems very reasonable. Because of our good scores, we only need to be audited every other year, which is a nice asset from the program as well.
Davis: Do your customers understand what it means for your facility to be SF/SF certified?
Molenaar: Our customers certainly recognize the value of the SF/SF certification – it helps them evaluate and accept us as an approved supplier. FSMA requires that every feed and food company prove their suppliers have processes in place that result in good and safe products. The SF/SF certificate provides the evidence that the supplier is in compliance.
Davis: How do you think the SF/SF program compares to other certification programs?
Molenaar: It seems like all programs have been adjusting to the new FSMA rules and have become more comparable. The FSC32, the program for pet food and pet food ingredients, and FSC34, the program for the manufacture of animal feeds, are Global Food Safety Initiative-benchmarked, which is a plus.
Davis: What would you tell a company considering pursuing SF/SF certification?
Molenaar: I would say that having a SF/SF certificate is very valuable. It will provide assurance that you are consistently manufacturing safe food for animals. Depending on where you do business, you have several options to choose from, making it a program that can work for many companies.
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