Global Food Safety Initiative reveals new benchmarking requirements

TOKYO, 6 March 2018 - The Global Food Safety Initiative announced at its annual Global Food Safety Conference in Tokyo, the latest initiative in GFSI’s mission to advance food safety and encourage industry action
calendar icon 7 March 2018
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The announcement is in regards to its latest version of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements, a document outlining what makes a good food safety system and enabling the benchmarking of food safety certification programmes. Version 7.2 focusses on improving auditor competency and covering the entire supply chain, providing FMCG businesses with an outline of requirements for a robust food safety infrastructure and explaining the step-by-step process for applying for a GFSI-recognised certification programme. The announcement came at this year’s Global Food Safety Conference, taking place in Tokyo on 5-8 March. The latest version is the result of a year of work from a dedicated task force, consisting of representatives from GFSI-recognised Certification Programme Owners (CPOs), accreditation and certification bodies and the wider food industry, making it the strongest yet.

Over the last 18 years, the GFSI has brought together the most influential food industry stakeholders, encouraging them to collaborate on the advancement of food safety. The GFSI Benchmarking Requirements have been an essential part of that mission since the publication of the first version in 2001. The documents outline the requirements of what constitutes a good Food Safety System and the step-by-step process for CPOs to apply for to enrol in a GFSI-recognised certification programme. The latest version focusses on stricter auditor assessment and coverage of the full supply chain from farm to fork.

The GFSI Benchmarking Requirements are always evolving. They are continually kept updated, adapting to changes in industry and government, reflecting best practices across the board from individuals to institutions.

GFSI has also released an update to its Technical Equivalence documents, for public government-owned programmes. This now includes a formal published process and technical requirements aligned to the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements.

The GFSI Auditor Exam

Version 7.2 introduces requirements for auditors of GFSI-recognised certification programmes to have passed an exam. The exam is based on the content of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements and is designed to assess competency across a range of skills. The exam questions cover both sector-specific technical skills, such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) requirements and standard auditing skills such as sampling and evidence gathering.

Certification Programme Owners have nine months to translate into their programme's management processes and three years to assess all auditors.

This is a huge task. To mitigate against the scale of this undertaking, the benchmarking requirements include a mutual recognition of exam results between CPOs. This means auditors may only need to take the exam once. Assessing auditors will ensure a baseline knowledge for all auditors and thus increase further confidence in GFSI-recognised certification.

Covering the Whole Supply Chain – from Farm to Fork

In addition to the auditor exam, two new scopes of recognition were introduced in version 7.2 of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements:

  • Catering (Scope G)
  • Retail & Wholesale (Scope H)

With these latest additions, the GFSI scopes of recognition now cover the full supply chain from farm to fork.

Our ambition is that a certified chain of custody is possible all the way from primary production to the end consumer. Each link in the chain is strengthened by certified Food Safety Management Systems and good industry practice.

A Collaborative Effort

A key objective of GFSI is to provide a unique international stakeholder platform for collaboration, knowledge exchange and networking. The work undertaken by GFSI and the task force to produce the latest version of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements has also been a huge collaborative effort.

Marie-Claude Quentin, GFSI Senior Technical Manager, said: “I would like to thank everyone who participated in this effort. This latest version is certainly the strongest yet and will lay the foundation for future versions. We’re extremely grateful to every member of the group who worked hard to pull this version together”.

Latest version of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements v7.2 are now available to view and download online. For more information and to download a copy, please head to the Benchmarking section of the GFSI website.

As reported by the GFSI

Ryan Johnson

Editor at The Poultry Site

Ryan worked in conservation from 2008 to 2017, during which time he operated a rainbow trout hatchery and helped to maintain public and protected green spaces in Canada for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. As editor of The Poultry Site, he now writes about challenges and opportunities in agriculture across the globe.

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