The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) has been required for at least 10 years by several of the larger global grocery retailers, but it is still not fully recognized as a marketing tool for companies and it should be. Grocery retailers want to know you are proactive with your food safety programs and that you are going to protect their reputation as a retailer with their private label brands. But it should not be a food safety management system just used by private label suppliers. It should be used by everyone here are the top 3 reasons that I say it should be:
1. INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED
The Consumer Goods Forum recognized that there was a growing need to standardize the audit industry so that everyone followed some basic food safety requirements to protect the consumers. In response, the GFSI was formed and made up of a cross-section of food safety professionals in many sections of the food supply chain. Now the GFSI working group is a "collaborative approach [that] brings together international food safety experts from the entire supply chain at Technical Working Group and Stakeholder meetings, conferences and regional events. They share knowledge and promote a harmonised approach with a shared vision of safe food for consumers everywhere."
2. TRAINED AUDITORS There are many auditors out there and many auditing companies that audit facilities all year long. For those of us that have been a Quality Assurance manager in an audited facility, you know that the auditors were not always trained in the product category that your facility produced. The GFSI helped protect this by holding an accountability to the auditing firms that auditors must have experience in the category that they audited against. This was not an easy thing for auditing firms to achieve and therefore, when the US grocery retailers started requiring GFSI benchmarked audits, there was a shortage of auditors. Some categories still have a shortage.
3. CORRECTIVE ACTIONS REQUIRED FOR CERTIFICATION One of my favorite things and why I trust GFSI benchmarked audit certifications is that the company being audited must respond within a specified time period to the auditing firm and the audit scheme owner (two different unbiased entities) that they have corrected any of the findings from the auditor. And the auditor is required to make the recommendation that they receive the certification or not. So if the auditor feels that the corrective action was not sufficient, the facility might not get the certification. This is a BIG reason that it can be a trusted system.
So these are my top 3 reasons. There are many other reasons that GFSI standards are good to work towards in your facility. We are most familiar with BRC and SQF standards, but there are mulitple recognized schemes that you can review here: http://www.mygfsi.com/certification/recognised-certification-programmes.html. You must chose the one that is best for your facility. If you have any questions, we are happy to discuss these types of food safety management systems with you.
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