This week, over 100 food safety specialists and industry leaders from around the globe have descended on Minneapolis. Why, you may wonder?
To spend two days collaborating on food safety challenges within the context of GFSI’s Technical Working Groups.
These groups are composed of highly-qualified individuals who have volunteered their time and expertise to develop specific projects mandated by the GFSI Board. Motivated by the conviction that food safety is a shared responsibility, their driving goal is to put the products of this collaborative work to the benefit of the entire industry.
The ultimate goal? To ensure the delivery of safe food to consumers, everywhere.
Four groups are convening in this week’s TWG meetings:
All food industry operations - not just the big ones – are taken into account within GFSI’s inclusive and open-source approach. Not one, but two Technical Working Groups, are convening this week to further develop GFSI’s Global Markets Programme, a capability building programme which provides guidance and implementation tools for the benefit of crucial links in the global food supply chain.
One of these TWGs focuses on Primary Production in the food industry, while the other looks at implementation of the broader capability building programme, whether it be fostering public-private partnerships or harnessing industry synergies such as that between buying companies and suppliers.
This week, the Primary Production group aims to deliver a revision of the requirements and protocol for the Global Markets, Primary Toolkits. The Implementation group is developing advice for the GFSI Board to support the development, implementation, promotion, growth and funding of the GFSI Global Markets Programme.
Ultimately, the Global Markets Programme is about equipping food companies, no matter where they operate, to continuously improve food safety management systems and produce safe food for local and international markets.
Addressing challenges across today’s globalised supply chains requires a global approach. The GFSI Regional Outreach group’s purpose is to consider GFSI’s global reach and provide advice to the GFSI Board in regards to global expansion over the next five years. They are developing a strategy, an action plan and shared tools.
It is one thing to agree on the importance of having a strong food safety culture. It is another thing altogether to go about quantifying and consistently strengthening that culture within a company. In fact, there is still limited agreement on what food safety culture is and what dimensions describe and influence this culture in order to better ensure public health.
The first order of business for this TWG is to create a common, accepted understanding of food safety culture and to drive harmonisation and convergence at a global level. The group is looking at various theoretical and practical components, exploring areas of commonality and developing practical tools for GFSI stakeholders to better understand and strengthen food safety cultures.
This edition of the GFSI Technical Working Groups is kindly hosted by Cargill, whose Vice President, Corporate Food Safety, Quality & Regulatory, Mike Robach, serves as Chair of the GFSI Board of Directors. Special thanks to Cargill and the individuals who have made these meetings possible.
Did you know? The Technical Working Groups are part of The GFSI Journey!
In its role as a unique collaborative network for the harmonisation and scaling up of food safety practice on a global scale, the Global Food Safety Initiative drives technical advancement through its Technical Working Groups.
“At GFSI, we believe that food safety is a shared responsibility. With the food supply chain growing more and more complex, no one can do it alone," said Véronique Discours-Buhot, Global Food Safety Initiative Director at The Consumer Goods Forum.
"We are thrilled to bring together the entire industry spectrum - manufacturers, retailers and service providers but also international organisations, academia and government representatives – to collaborate on key food safety issues."
"Above all, the Technical Working Groups are a fantastic example of collaboration."
One of the things that makes GFSI unique is that it engages in a two-way dialogue with the industry. Stakeholders contribute immensely to putting top of mind issues on the table, throughout the year as well as at the annual GFSI Stakeholder Meeting.
Food industry stakeholders communicate current issues and challenges to the GFSI Board, who then mandate Technical Working Groups to collaborate on non-competitive global issues, to find collaborative solutions to collective industry concerns. Finally, the open-source solutions and compiled best-practice is made available to the entire industry to drive continuous improvement.
Since the outset, over 100 companies, consultancies and organisations have collaborated in GFSI’s 25 Technical Working Groups, covering all areas of food safety. The work of the GFSI would undoubtedly not have moved forward in the way that it has without the significant dedication of these experts and the support of the companies and organisations they represent.
Start planning your attendance at the next GFSI Stakeholder Meeting.
Cargill also hosted the fall meeting of the GFSI Board of Directors, which took place just before the Technical Working Group meetings. It followed up on the successful June meeting held in Cape Town alongside the Global Summit of The Consumer Goods Forum.
The agenda for the Board discussions reflected the current priorities for GFSI as outlined by Mike Robach in this GFSI blog post. Notably, this includes food safety scheme assurance and harmonisation, establishing government partnerships, and increasing GFSI’s role as a thought leader and partner for capability building.
Beyond this, the board also talked about GFSI's growing public-private collaboration efforts, focusing specifically on the current dialogue with the US Food and Drug Administration and the Mexican SENASICA (National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health Safety and Quality).
The next GFSI Technical Working Group meetings will take place in Houston, Texas just after the next GFSI Global Food Safety Conference from February 27th to March 2nd, 2017.
To join this conference is to join a network of over 1,000 food safety leaders and to join forces in support of the GFSI vision of safe food for consumers, everywhere. It is also the opportunity to contribute to shaping the GFSI agenda for the coming year, as the conference kicks off the GFSI & You open stakeholder session on Tuesday February 28th.