The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a non-profit industry-driven initiative for the continuous improvement of food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide. GFSI provides a platform for collaboration between the world’s leading food safety experts from retail, manufacturing, and food service companies, as well as international organizations, governments, academia and service providers to the global food industry. GFSI is managed by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global, parity-based industry network, driven by its members.
GFSI arose because of a need in the food industry to develop a uniform structure for assessing food safety standards. To do this, the GFSI specified the food safety criteria that should be incorporated into these standards and created common procedures for accreditation and certification bodies that check the implementation of these standards.
The GFSI’s mission is to “provide continuous improvement in food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide” and its main objectives are to:
- Reduce food safety risks.
- Manage cost in the global food system by eliminating redundancy and improving operational efficiency.
- Develop competencies and capacity building in food safety to create consistent and effective global food systems.
- Provide a unique international stakeholder platform for collaboration, knowledge exchange and networking.
GFSI developed a benchmarking model that determines equivalency between existing food safety schemes while leaving flexibility and choice in the marketplace. This benchmarking model is based on the GFSI Guidance Document which defines the process by which food safety schemes may gain recognition by GFSI and gives guidance to these schemes.
GFSI has recognized a number of food safety management schemes that fulfill the criteria of the GFSI Guidance Document:
- BRC Global Standard for Food Safety (Sixth Edition)
- CanadaGAP (Canadian Horticultural Council On-Farm Food Safety Program)
- FSSC 22000 Food Products
- Global Aquaculture Alliance Seafood Processing Standard
- Global Red Meat Standard (GRMS)
- IFS Food Version 6
- Safe Quality Food
Although they all have the same purpose to ensure food safety, each standard has its own way or philosophy of managing and evaluating different certification rules.
The collaborative approach of GFSI enables all stakeholders across sectors to work together to achieve many benefits. Food industry players (suppliers, retailers, brand manufacturers and foodservice companies) achieve these benefits in particular:
- Greater efficiency and broader access to markets.
- Show equivalence of process across countries and continents thereby enabling trade.
- Audits are reduced.
- Having a framework for a legal defense in place.
- Working within a food safety management system that is structured to be continuously improved to internationally accepted standards
- Effective shared risk management tools for brand protection.
- Improve product integrity.
- Improve market linkages and enables simpler buying.
GFSI is not a scheme in itself and does not carry out any accreditation or certification activities. Certification according to a GFSI recognized scheme can be achieved through a successful third party audit.
To the novice quality manager, ISO jargon can be extremely overwhelming. What is an NCR? What do you mean by OFI? Are we certified or accredited? But before you go and pull out your hair, let’s take a moment to go over some of the most frequently used terms and their definitions with regards to ISO and Management System Certification.