The North American meat and poultry industry is complex and highly variable. Companies engaged in this industry understand that consumers increasingly desire meat protein products. As we improve our efficiencies to meet rising demand, we are also improving food safety performance.
One of the successful tools being used by Tyson Foods and others to ensure the production of safe meat products is a third-party audit benchmarked by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). We use this tool both as an internal barometer and as a prerequisite to our relationships with suppliers and contract manufacturers.
Tyson supports GFSI as an industry initiative that works in harmony with regulatory and health agencies on a global scale and encourages adoption of internationally recognized methods of managing risk and reducing food safety failures. Companies, large or small, benefit by making improvements that align with audits that have been benchmarked against the GFSI Guidance Document. This collective, international approach recognizes that all of us are smarter when working together than any of us are individually in managing food safety.
Under GFSI, I have seen small businesses that supply Tyson implement the basics to achieve certification while larger more experienced operations’ teams, like ourselves, are adopting more robust methodologies that provide improved food safety performance for their higher-volume outputs. Striving to pass a "GFSI audit" drives improvement. GFSI is truly a tide that raises all ships.
Not surprisingly, many companies have historically required audits as means to bolster their confidence in a particular operation. While third-party audits are indeed a useful tool for advancing food safety, they also can be unnecessarily disruptive and duplicative. Multiple audits reviewing the same programs at the same location are redundant and detract from the management team’s focus as well as proper execution of programs in a facility.
Benchmarking multiple audit schemes against the Guidance Document requirements provides assurance that many of those common elements are included in the audit scope. At the same time, benchmarking ensures that there is equivalency of outcome, while preserving competition between auditing schemes and certification bodies.
Many of us in the North American meat industry use GFSI benchmarked audits to assess our suppliers and have successfully encouraged many of our customers to do the same. Adoption of the "once certified, recognized everywhere" philosophy saves money while improving efficiency and food safety performance. A properly planned and executed GFSI benchmarked audit, based on internationally recognized standards, can and does provide the information needed to assess and improve food safety systems.
It is for this reason that I encourage you to review the Benefits section of the GFSI website, specifically the GFSI Efficacy Study that reviewed the results at over 800 manufacturing locations across 21 countries.
I believe GFSI is truly making a positive difference in the world by encouraging adoption of recognized best practices within the industry. In demonstrating my commitment to GFSI, I am honored to represent Tyson Foods on the GFSI Board of Directors.
This post was written and contributed by:
Senior Vice President Food Safety and Quality Assurance, Tyson Foods, USA
Member of the GFSI Board of Directors