This blog post is the first of a series that will be published over the next few weeks. This series will allow you to get to know the 2018 GFSI Global Markets Awards winners from four countries across the globe (Japan, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan) and how their use of the GFSI Global Markets Programme helped them to improve their food safety management systems. The Awards included travel and access to the Global Food Safety Conference 2018 and discovery tours in Tokyo, Japan.
This first contribution is by 2018 Japanese winner, Koutaro SATOU, of Fuji Foods Co., Ltd.
About the Global Markets Programme
The Global Markets Programme, building a pathway to certification, was created by GFSI seven years ago. It provides an unaccredited entry point for companies through a step-by-step Programme designed to build capacity within production and manufacturing operations. The Programme proposes ways for companies with less sophisticated food safety management systems to manage the challenges of food safety, while simultaneously reducing hazards in global food supply chains and improving market access through certification by one of the GFSI-recognised certification programme owners. The Programme toolkit is made up of self-assessments based on a checklist of GFSI requirements, a training and competency framework, as well as a protocol to guide the user throughout the Programme.
In addition to GFSI’s role as a recognised leader in the benchmarking of global food safety standards, the development of the Global Markets Programme has been hailed by industry stakeholders as one of GFSI's premier contributions to improving food safety for consumers everywhere. Toolkits are available for primary production and manufacturing scopes and can be accessed in the GFSI library as free and open-source material in multiple languages.
Fuji Foods Co., Ltd. has been providing Chinese-style prepared food, such as “ru chan dumpling”, to mainly western Japan for 48 years since its founding in 1970. Our food safety journey began in 2004, the same year we obtained a private HACCP certificate owned by an audit institution, and subsequently obtained ISO22000 in 2008. We are proud to have been engaged in food safety for such a long time and we have continually sought to maintain a high standard.
We were intrigued, therefore, when one of our business partners found an opportunity allowing us take part in the Global Food Safety Initiative’s (GFSI) Global Markets Programme. We integrated the Programme into our regular factory inspection standard. When we obtained the HACCP certificate, I had struggled with the validation test. However, with changing social trends, I became aware of the need to continually improve our food safety management system and the importance of GFSI’s Global Markets Programme. As a food manufacturer, I particularly agreed with the Prerequisite Programme (PRP), which increased my interest to take part in it.
For instance, under the hygiene section of the Programme, one assigned person is required to oversee cleaning practices. Since I was not fully knowledgeable in this domain, I initiated a training session focused on cleaning. Before starting this training, individual workers showed variations in cleaning standards. In order to close the gap between them, and to verify the effectiveness of each individual’s cleaning performance, we started to take greater notice of such things like measuring residual protein and providing feedback on the final results from a third party. This led to all employees being more conscious of the required level of food safety, enhanced sanitary conditions of machines in the factory, and improvements on the microorganism level.
Despite our old building and facilities, cleaning is now performed to an excellent level and our workshop has hardly any residual dross remaining. We have been performing the “5S activity” based on cleaning and a creative group emerged in the factory, evidence of the shift in mindset. The group created a cleaning tool all by themselves (“do it yourself” style) suited for cleaning high areas such as ceilings, as well as a paddle that prevents product tampering.
Another example that stands out in Fuji Foods Co., Ltd.’s food safety journey is the management of our outsourcing company. As a small corporation, managing delivery companies tends to be difficult. We decided to enforce specific conditions for our delivery partners, as part of our goal to reach new heights in food safety as a modern food manufacturer.
Regarding the Critical Control Point (CCP), our main product is raw dumpling. We have, therefore, chosen microbiological control as the CCP and have set the critical limit in the process that controls the count of viable bacteria under the necessary acceptable level. In comparison to the conditions before establishing HACCP, sterilisation levels of raw materials and equipment have dramatically improved. This shows that we have become more knowledgeable about washing concentration and time.
Having completed the Global Markets Programme, we are now planning to move on to the next step: becoming a GFSI-recognised scheme. We have engaged with a consultant to perform our internal audit and management review twice a year to assess performance in order to improve our system. Recently, we made minor adjustments in our system with the aim of obtaining a certification from a GFSI recognised scheme by conducting random internal audits focused on PRP to improve sanitary management levels in our workshop.
The Global Markets Programme clearly states the defined points of achievement regarding PRP, making it easy to understand. I really appreciate the valuable experience of going through the Programmed and the experience of attending the 2018 Global Food Safety Conference in Tokyo, where global corporations shared their knowledge and initiatives. I was excited to be a part of the Conference, which further emphasised the importance of elevating our level of food safety management. The fact that our consistent behavior in food safety was recognised by GFSI has added peace of mind to our business partners. Though we are a small and medium-sized enterprise and do not have extensive resources, we managed to obtain this award by being consistent in our food safety management system in the complex process of producing dumplings. We will continue our efforts to improve our food safety level, maintain the high levels of employee motivation that resulted from the Programme, and enjoy the trust of our partners to trade our products.
This blog was written and contributed by:
Factory Manager, Fuji Foods Co., Ltd.