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The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) was launched in 2000 to harmonize food safety standards and reduce audit duplication throughout the supply chain. The intent was to allow food processors to achieve certification to one GFSI benchmarked standard that would be accepted by all major retailers, manufacturers and food service groups.
The daily management of GFSI is undertaken by The Consumer Goods Forum. The GFSI Board is made up of members drawn from major retailer, manufacturer and food service operators.
While benchmarking remains one of GFSI’s key activities, its collaborative approach to food safety brings together international food safety experts from the entire food supply chain at Technical Working Group and Stakeholder meetings, conferences and regional events to share knowledge and promote a harmonized approach to managing food safety across the industry.
The GFSI benchmarked standards are food safety management systems that go above and beyond the internationally recognized requirements for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point systems.
A processor who effectively implements a GFSI benchmarked standard has a system in place to assure a high level of food safety as well as defined communication processes and management responsibilities. Some benchmarked standards also include requirements for product quality.
Many food processors in Canada are implementing GFSI benchmarked food safety standards at the request, and sometimes demand, of major food retailers, manufacturers and food service groups they wish to supply.
The 3 most popular GFSI benchmarked standards adopted by food processors in Alberta and Canada are:
Find a complete list of GFSI recognized certification programs.
Choosing a standard
Processors wishing to implement a GFSI benchmarked standard may be unclear which one to choose. All GFSI standards should be recognized equally by buyers.
There are several factors to consider when choosing a standard:
- What are your customers asking you for?
- Where are your customers? Is a certain standard more prominent in that region?
- Which standard is most suitable for your operation?
- Does the standard align well with your existing food safety system?
- What are the costs associated with the standard?
- What are the audit costs? Are auditors readily available and located nearby?
- Do you have a preferred certification body and do they provide certification to that standard?
- Are auditors available if you have a short deadline for certification?
- What support is offered by the standard owner?
- Are qualified consultants readily available?