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- SAFE FOOD SPOTLIGHT
GFSI stands for The Global Food Safety Initiative. It is a business-driven initiative for the development of food safety management systems to ensure food facilities are processing safe food for consumers.
The GFSI is a private organization that oversees and approves different auditing platforms as meeting their criteria. This criterion provides a universal gold-standard of recognition to specific food safety audits.
In practice, this means that a food processor or manufacturer who can point to their GFSI certification can effectively and immediately show their customers and potential customers that their plant is operating with a structured, comprehensive, and effective food safety program.
In dollars and cents, this means that if you want to reach new customers and keep existing customers, a GFSI audit and GFSI Certification will help them to know that they aren’t likely to face food safety problems with your product.
Every GFSI standard effectively reviews three things:
Putting all of these elements together, a GFSI audit ensures that a supplier is producing safe food year round.
While it can be stressful for a supplier to learn that an important contract hinges on obtaining a certification they’ve never heard of before, suppliers who successfully pursue GFSI certification generally find that the effort invested leads to significant rewards.
A food safety scheme is recognized by GFSI when it meets the food safety requirements defined in the GFSI Guidance Documents. Remember that GFSI is an organization that benchmarks and approves different auditing standards. There isn't technically any single audit called "The GFSI Audit," but there are several standards that are GFSI-benchmarked.
Many food processors first hear of the Global Food Safety Initiative when a customer asks for a copy of their GFSI Certificate. Because GFSI is such a large and complicated institution, it can be difficult to grasp what exactly GFSI certification means on your own.
HACCP, short for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points is where it all begins. Without HACCP, you won’t be successful in your food safety program, so make sure you take a class to get educated on everything there is to know about this fundamental piece of food safety. On top of being extremely helpful, HACCP training is required under many GFSI schemes.
Fun Fact *According to a study conducted by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), food recalls cost companies an average of $10 million per incident.
As explained above, there are ten different platforms under the GFSI umbrella. But when it comes to Food Processing, two of the largest are BRC and SQF. Globally SQF has 6588 certified sites and BRC has 20903 certified sites, showing the footprint that the two platforms have.
This question has a long answer and a short answer.
The short answer: it’s easy. Contact an accredited Certification Body (like Safe Food Certifications) and tell them which audit you want. The Certification Body will get your information, provide you with a quote, contract, and audit date, and you are good to go.
The long answer: Let’s assume that you don’t simply want a GFSI-benchmarked audit, but actually want to pass it. The answer is a bit more complicated.
While you can get a BRC or SQF audit whenever you like, you really shouldn't rush your audit if you aren't ready. A failed audit isn't the end of the road for your facility. But, no facility wants anything less than a successful one.
No matter where you are on your GFSI certification journey, nothing should dissuade you from your goal of achieving BRC or SQF certification. Instead, you should honestly assess your possible gaps and timeframe. A facility with a good HACCP program in place and a practitioner attending SQF or BRC training next week might well be ready for an audit in four months. A facility still grappling with a HACCP program might need to plan on an audit for a year or more down the line.
It can be beneficial to speak to a representative at a Certification Body about your particular facility to get some input on your likely timeline as well. They work with many processors in the same situation and can help you in determining your needs towards achieving certification.
No matter how far out your timeline may be, it is a good idea to connect with a Certification Body to discuss getting your audit on the schedule early. BRC and SQF audits are in high demand and are often booked out months in advance, especially during peak seasons.
Becoming certified for the first time can be intimidating but you don’t have to do it alone. We understand the liabilities and the worries. In order to smooth out your learning curve, contact Safe Food Certifications to help you establish a road map for pursuing GFSI certification for your facility. No matter your level of preparedness and scheme-specific requirements, we will help you meet you food safety goals.