Back in 2000, food safety was a top of mind issue for companies and consumers due to several high-profile recalls, quarantines and negative publicity about the food industry. There was also extensive audit fatigue through the industry, as retailers performed inspections or audits themselves or asked a third party to do this on their behalf. These were often carried out against food safety schemes that lacked international certification and accreditation, resulting in incomparable auditing results.
CEOs of global companies came together at The Consumer Goods Forum (CIES at the time) and agreed that consumer trust needed to be strengthened and maintained through a safer supply chain. GFSI was launched as a non-profit making foundation in 2000, to achieve this through the harmonisation of food safety standards that would drive reduce audit duplication throughout the supply chain. At the time, there was no existing scheme that could be qualified as “global” that could be adopted by all. GFSI therefore chose to go down the route of benchmarking, developing a model that determines equivalency between existing food safety schemes, whilst leaving flexibility and choice in the marketplace.
The daily management of GFSI is undertaken by The Consumer Goods Forum.
The Global Food Safety Initiative is no longer just a benchmarking organisation. While this remains one of its 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. GFSI is managed by an industry-driven GFSI Board of Directors and supported by The Consumer Goods Forum Board of Directors, with particular support from Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO, Kraft Foods and Bill McEwan, President & CEO, Sobeys Inc (replacement to be confirmed soon).