Unannounced food safety audits will be included in the next revision of the Safe Quality Food Institute code.

The protocol for such audits is scheduled to be introduced in February and implemented in July. It will require that one out of every three audits by Arlington, Va.-based Safe Quality Food Institute be unannounced.

“Although many stakeholders, such as governments and consumer organizations, recognize the efficacy of the SQFI food safety management program, unannounced audits will elevate the (program) to the next level by providing a standard that will prepare SQF-certified suppliers to be audit-ready at any time,” Robert Garfield, senior vice president, said in a news release.

“We believe that each facility must be prepared every day for an assessment,” Garfield said.

The move makes Safe Quality Food Institute – a division of the Food Marketing Institute – the first internationally accredited third-party assessment program to require unannounced audits, according to the company.

It provides food safety and quality certifications for more than 5,000 facilities in 31 countries.