In 2002 German HDE (Hauptverband des Deutschen Einzelhandels) retailers developed a common food safety standard called International Food Standard, IFS.
In 2003, French retailers and wholesalers from the FCD (Federation des enterprises du Commerce et de la Distribution) entered a collaboration with the IFS Working Group and contributed to the development of the 4th IFS Edition. Version 6 is the latest IFS version since 1st of January 2012.
IFS Certification is a valuable asset for food businesses who wish to export their products to Germany and France, as more and more retailers from these countries require an IFS certificate from their suppliers.                   IFS Regulation specifies a quantified assessment of requirements that have been fulfilled and the evaluation result is expressed in percentage terms. Thus, a supplier’s customer can evaluate quantitatively the performance of their supplier.
The IFS standard (version 6) consists of five chapters:
1.     Quality Management System, where the company is required to define processes and to prepare the food safety system based on seven principles HACCP (WHO / Codex Alimentarius Committee).
2.     Management Responsibility
3.     Resource Management
4.     Product Implementation
5.     Measurement, Analysis, Improvement
6.     Food defense and external audits
IFS recognizes 10 requirements of the standard as extremely important. These are called ‘Knock Outs’.
The IFS standard creates an important opportunity for appraisal and certification in two levels: HIGHER LEVEL and FOUNDATION LEVEL, which helps companies, assess their ability to meet the necessary requirements. FOUNDATION LEVEL requirements are considered to be the same as the minimum requirements that must be met by all companies of the international food industry. HIGHER LEVEL sets higher-level requirements. IFS also includes requirements under the title RECOMMENDATIONS which represent “best practice” in the food industry.
EUROCERT is accredited by UKAS (Cert. No.180 – B) so that it may perform IFS audits. An important fact is that IFS audits can only be performed by auditors approved by IFS, and under IFS supervision. Certification Bodies are required to publish their audit reports on the IFS website. IFS validity is 12 months.
1.             Application for IFS Certification sent to Eurocert.
2.             Decision on date of audit. Note that an important step of  the IFS certification process is the conduct of internal audits in order to ascertain the company’s compliance with the IFS requirements.
3.             ΗACCP – IFS Manual reviewed in order to be reviewed by auditors.
4.             Audit program is sent to the company. The audit length is determined by the size and complexity of processes and products of the company.
5.             Audit.
6.             A preliminary report is sent to the company. The company is required to complete the Action Plan within two weeks from the date of closure of non-compliance to the standard.
Please note that the standard’s regulation does not allow the issue of the IFS certificate in case of more than one Major non-compliances
7.             The Action Plan is sent to the Certification body. The Certification Body issues a Final Report and the IFS certificate.
8.             The IFS Certificate and the Final report are sent to the company.