The Global Food Safety Initiative is an industry-driven initiative providing thought leadership and guidance on food safety management system controls necessary to assure the safety of the food supply chain. This work is advanced through collaboration between the world's leading food safety experts from retail, manufacturing and food service companies, as well as international organisations, governments, academia and service providers to the global food industry. They meet together 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 the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global, parity-based industry network, driven by its members.

 

GFSI Vision

Safe food for consumers everywhere.

GFSI Mission

Provide continuous improvement in food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide.

GFSI objectives

  1. Reduce food safety risks by delivering equivalence and convergence between effective food safety management systems
  2. Manage cost in the global food system by eliminating redundancy and improving operational efficiency
  3. Develop competencies and capacity building in food safety to create consistent and effective global food systems
  4. Provide a unique international stakeholder platform for collaboration, knowledge exchange and networking

GFSI does:

  • Specify for the recognition of food safety management schemes to defined requirements in its Guidance Document.
  • Bring together food safety experts within a global network.
  • Drives global change through multi-stakeholder projects on strategic issues (eg. auditor competence, regulatory affairs, food safety for small suppliers).

GFSI does not:

  • Make policy for retailers, manufacturers or food safety scheme owners
  • Undertake any accreditation or certification activities
  • Own any food safety schemes or standards
  • Undertake training
  • Have any involvement outside the scope of food safety, such as animal welfare, the environment or ethical sourcing

Background

During the 90s, there had been a series of high-profile international food safety crises including BSE, dioxin and listeria. Within the food industry there was a growing audit fatigue as retailers and brand manufacturers audited factories against their countless in-house standards, each developed in isolation and with no consideration of convergence. The results showed no consistency. Consumer and food industry confidence was low.
The CEOs of the world’s food retailers, working through their independent network CIES - The Food Business Forum, now the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), agreed to take collaborative action. In May 2000, the Global Food Safety Initiative, a non-profit foundation, was founded.

The Proposal

The main goal was laid out at the very beginning and remains a compelling message: once certified, accepted everywhere. GFSI chose the benchmarking approach as there were existing foundations. The British Retail Consortium had already published their first BRC food safety standard in 1998. The German and French retailers were starting to work together on the International Food Standard (IFS) and the Food Marketing Institute, the Trade Association for the North American retailers, were developing their Safe Quality Food (SQF) Standard.
The benchmarking model would credibly determine equivalency between food safety schemes, whilst leaving flexibility and choice in the marketplace.

GFSI Today

GFSI has developed to become more than a benchmarking organisation. Its collaborative approach brings together international food safety experts from the entire supply chain at Technical Working Group and Stakeholder meetings, conferences and regional events. They share knowledge and promote a harmonised approach with a shared vision of “safe food for consumers everywhere.”
Strategic direction for GFSI is provided by an industry-driven GFSI Board of Directors from retailers, manufacturers and foodservice operators. It is supported by The Consumer Goods Forum Board of Directors, co-chaired by Dick Boer, CEO of Royal Ahold and Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestlé.
The daily management of GFSI is undertaken by The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global, parity-based industry network, driven by its members.

Timeline

2000

Launch of GFSI in May

2001

1st Draft Guidance Document published in August

2001

1st International Food Safety Conference held in September in Geneva, Switzerland

2003

Results of the 1st round of benchmarking published in January (EFSIS, BRC, IFS, Dutch HACCP)

2003

Albert Heijn announces acceptance of any of the four recognised standards

2005

The GFSI Foundation created under Belgian law and the Advisory Group becomes its Board (consisting of Tesco, Wal-Mart, Metro, Carrefour, Migros, Royal Ahold, Loblaw and Delhaize)

2006

Task Force disbanded and 1st Technical Committee formed in September

2007

“GFSI Breakthrough”: 7 major retailers (Tesco, Wal-Mart, Metro, Carrefour, Migros, Royal Ahold and Delhaize) announced acceptance of the GFSI benchmarked food safety schemes

2008

1st roadshow in Tokyo and China in April

2008

Work begins on requirements for small suppliers – the GFSI Global Markets Programme

2009

The Technical Committee restructured into Technical Working Groups in February

2010

International Food Safety Conference renamed to Global Food Safety Conference and is held for the 1st time in North America in Washington, D.C., USA

2011

GFSI Guidance Document 6th Edition released – new modular format allowing for clear coverage of whole supply chain

2011

GFSI Global Markets Programme Launched for Manufacturing

2012

1st GFSI Local Group launched in Japan in January

2012

GFSI Global Markets Programme Launched for Primary Production

2014

1st survey “GFSI Efficacy Study” conducted to evaluate GFSI’s impact on food business operations

How to get involved with GFSI

There are several ways you can find out more about GFSI and join our global stakeholder platform for networking, knowledge exchange and sharing of best food safety practices and information.

  • Join the annual GFSI Stakeholder Meeting that takes place prior to the Global Food Safety Conference (email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
  • Attend the Global Food Safety Conference where you can find out more about GFSI in specific parallel sessions
  • GFSI Technical Working Groups - all Technical Working Groups are currently complete, but please sign up to receive regular updates from GFSI (write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and we will advise all GFSI Stakeholders when new groups are created. We can only have one company member per working group, but one company can be represented across several Working Groups.
  • GFSI updates, Newsletter, LinkedIn & Twitter: Sign up to receive our GFSI Newsletter published three times a year by registering on our home page. For regular updates (news releases, stakeholder consultations etc) please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. providing your full contact details. You can also find a dedicated ‘Global Food Safety Initiative’ GFSI group on LinkedIn and follow GFSI on Twitter @myGFSI.

Please note that GFSI does not have a 'membership' system as such; we are an open forum for collaboration comprised of various stakeholders associated with the food supply chain. GFSI is however managed by an international trade association called The Consumer Goods Forum of which your company can become a member. Please go to the CGF website that will provide more information on membership and its benefits which includes discounts to the Global Food Safety Conference and other events which could be of interest to your company.