Despite the positive influence and guidance set forth by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), one-third of all food manufacturers have yet to start on the GFSI journey and another third are still in the beginning stages - that's two-thirds of the whole industry!
Why should food manufacturers care about GFSI? How does GFSI relate to FSMA? We asked respected journalist Heather Angus-Lee to share her insight into these questions and others.
TraceGains: What is the value of GFSI for the food industry? Why should food manufacturers, who have not already subscribed to a GFSI scheme, take notice and act?
Angus-Lee: Like with many business initiatives, customer demand is the driving force for action on GFSI. If the larger retailers you sell to – or wish to supply – now require certification to a GFSI recognized scheme, food companies are going to get onboard. The value? Business growth or, at the very least, customer retention.
TraceGains: What are the major differences between BRC, IFS, SQF and FSSC (the major schemes that apply to food manufacturers)?
Angus-Lee: SQF 2000 and BRC Global Standard for Food Safety are more alike than not, but some of the main differences include:
- SQF 2000 applies to 30 categories for food processing. BRC applies to 18 categories including for packing.
- You need to dedicate a full-time employee to be the internal SQF practitioner; not required for BRC.
- SQF separates food safety and quality into two levels. BRC combines them into one.
- SQF has mandatory, annual on-site audit for recertification; BRC’s is voluntary.
- SQF requires ‘desk’ audit as well as on-site. BRC just has on-site.
- Different and somewhat more complex HACCP requirements within FSSC 22000 set it apart from SQF and BRC. [Companies already certified to the ISO 22000 standard will likely find it easiest to go the FSSC 22000 route.]
TraceGains: How does GFSI interplay with FSMA, if at all? Why should a food manufacturer be concerned with both GFSI and FSMA compliance?
Angus-Lee: There is substantial overlap between requirements for GFSI and FSMA compliance, including: risk assessment and/or HACCP programs; preventative controls; GMPs and/or PRPs; continuous improvement, management systems, and commitment. Working on being certified to a GFSI-recognized scheme moves your company that much closer for full compliance to FSMA in time for the government’s deadlines.
With FSMA and GFSI, one is the law of the land; the other is business-driven – but failure to comply with either can cost you a lot of money and market share. In the case of FSMA: fines, and (now mandatory) recalls, even closures. In the case of GFSI, customers and prospects will take their business to your competitors who are certified to the required food safety and quality scheme(s).
TraceGains: What internal processes or teams should be in place when beginning on the GFSI journey to promote success?
Angus-Lee: Success is enabled by employee participation in a cross departmental team spearheaded by an executive champion – with enough time and other resources given to this team to work on GFSI steps. As well, your company gains an advantage at the start of the GFSI journey if HACCP program(s) and/or GMPs are in place - or even prior ISO certification – since many processes and procedures will be the same.
TraceGains: What strategies would you recommend to help food manufacturers manage internal resistance to change when implementing a GFSI scheme?
Angus-Lee: Explaining the reason for GFSI compliance is a great place to start: when employees know that their paychecks depend on the company keeping and/or adding customers, they are less likely to resist change. Also, top-down (management) buy-in and oversight is key so that employees don’t revert to their regular jobs and GFSI progress is slowed.
TraceGains: What do you foresee as the future of GFSI and food safety for food manufacturers? Any predictions?
Angus-Lee: GFSI recognized schemes will grow in importance to food manufacturers, as more and more retailers, foodservice and other customers demand certification. Along with food safety, the issue of quality compliance is growing in importance, with schemes such as SQF 2000 Level 3 incorporating strict quality measures.
The food industry could also be moving in the direction of multiple certifications, so that a company is required to have more than one GFSI recognized scheme under its belt. Some auditors have reported requests for back-to-back audits for SQF and BRC; documentation can be coded for both schemes with only slight changes. So, clearly, now is the time to get on the GFSI train, if you haven’t already, and be prepared to it ride it going forward.
Getting Started with GFSI (For Manufacturers) - Free Webinar - May 15, 2014
Join our webinar to learn about the impetus for creating the GFSI, its benefits, and basic steps to get you going on the process to becoming compliant.
Karil Kochenderfer, GFSI’s North American representative, will start with an overview of the Global Food Safety Initiative and its benefits.
John Kukoly, Director of BRC in the Americas, will then give a general overview of what is required to begin the compliance process with any GFSI-compliant scheme relevant to food manufacturers and ingredient processors.
Date: Thurs., May 15, 2014
Time: 9:00 AM (PDT)
Duration: 1 Hour
Easing Compliance with GFSI Schemes [On-Demand Webinar]
Learn from TraceGains customers Chelsea Milling (makers of Jiffy Mixes), Specialty Commodities, and Ottens Flavors how TraceGains helps with achieving and maintaining Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) compliance through supplier document management automation and business intelligence.
About Heather Angus-Lee
Passionate about technology and communications in equal measure, Heather Angus-Lee is a writer and content strategist for IndustryBuilt, with an extensive background in B2B journalism including daily newspapers, national trade magazines and online publications. She can be reached at email@example.com.