Become Recognized for Food Safety
4 February 2021
By Matt Ruth
Quality Assurance Manager
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is an internationally recognized campaign created in 2000 by The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global industry network working to “support Better Lives Through Better Business.” The GFSI community relies on volunteers to help combat the global food safety crisis.
The GFSI does not certify feed and food businesses directly. Rather, they recognize a number of certifying bodies that meet the GFSI’s benchmarking requirements. These authorized certifying bodies perform audits and certify facilities that meet all of GFSI’s standards.
Currently, there are two certification bodies that offer auditing and certification services for the production of feed – Foundation Food Safety System Certification 22000 (FSSC 22000) and Safe Quality Food (SQF). Trouw Nutrition facilities, for example, utilize SQF for their GFSI auditing and certification purposes.
SQF, and other GFSI auditing organizations, require facilities seeking certification to have in place policies and programs including, but not limited to, consumer complaint management; document control; food safety plan; traceability; Corrective Action, Preventive Action (CAPA) program; food defense; pest control; training and many others. These policies and programs are the backbone of a great food/feed safety system. GFSI certification is recognized worldwide as one of the highest standards in food safety, as well as a metaphorical license to conduct business anywhere in the world.
GFSI was created when consumer faith in the food and feed processing industry was at an all-time low. With GFSI certification, customers can have confidence again and trust that the supplier has rigorous programs and systems in place to meet the stringent requirements.
One of the most important aspects of any GFSI auditing scheme is the traceability of all raw materials and finished products. Trouw Nutrition, for example, employs a unique feed-to-food quality system called Nutrace® Plus, which ensures traceability of all products throughout our systems. In a matter of minutes, we can determine where materials were purchased, what finished products were made using those materials, and which customers received those finished products.
More than ever, pets are now a member of the family. Recognizing this fact, the GFSI mandates the same requirements for the food that your son, daughter, father, mother, etc. eats as the food that your dog or cat eats.
While the nutritional and palatability requirements are different for animals, the food safety requirement is the same. Consumers expect animal food to be free from any and all materials or microorganisms that may cause harm to their pets. By utilizing a GFSI-recognized auditing scheme, pet food companies can assure their consumers that all potential hazards have been assessed.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
In 2011, then-President Barack Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law. This marked the first federal legislation to combat food-borne illness since the mid-1900s. This law gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more authority over the food and feed processing industry.
Prior to FSMA, only food and feed processors that were audited by a GFSI-recognized certifying body were required to perform a hazard analysis of their process and document this in a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan. FSMA now requires that all food and feed processors (regardless of their GFSI certification status) perform a hazard analysis of their process and document this in a Hazard Analysis Risk-based Preventive Control (HARPC) plan. By the end of November 2015, all human food and animal food processors had to comply with FSMA.
Two primary ways of getting involved are to obtain GFSI certification or to join a GFSI Local Group. To obtain certification, select an applicable certification program and select a certifying body recognized by the GFSI as authorized to provide that particular certification. Then contact the certifying body to begin the certification process.
GFSI members include leading food safety experts in retail, manufacturing, food service, suppliers, international organizations, governments, academia and service providers to the global food industry. You can join a GFSI Local Group to support the organization’s efforts and help improve food safety around the world.
Although companies don’t have to be certified by GFSI, the organization still has a tremendous impact on ensuring our food is safe for humans and animals worldwide.