Houston, 28 February – The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) yesterday hosted over 100 representatives from more than 20 countries and multilaterals organisations who gathered in Houston just ahead of GFSI’s 16th annual Global Food Safety Conference to discuss better collaboration for global public health outcomes. Countries including Japan, China, Mexico, Canada, the UK and the United States of America had a strong presence at this second edition of the meetings, sending delegations from their food safety agencies.
Multilateral organisations including the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC, World Bank Group) also participated in the meetings.
This “G30” of food safety came together to discuss how they view the potential integration of private food safety assurance schemes within the context of national control systems and how to leverage the industry’s investment in private certification for public policy results.
Directly after the Government-to-Government (G2G) session, a Government-to-Business (G2B) meeting was the occasion for the national representatives to meet with the GFSI Board of Directors, composed of industry leaders from manufacturing, retail and food service companies, to discuss the same topics within the perspective if the private sector.
The objective to hosting a 2017 edition of these meetings is to continue the informal discussion from the 2016 meetings on private certification, as well as to broaden the scope and discuss emerging food safety issues and trends. It is also to explore how regulators and the private sector can jointly achieve food safety outcomes in the context of value chain management.
The meeting between the regulators and the GFSI Board of Directors will help inform and align understanding about third-party certification and private standards, from both a food safety and trade perspective. The meeting allowed government food safety officials and the GFSI Board of Directors to discuss the ongoing food safety reforms in their respective countries, including but not limited to, discussing the role that third-party audits and certification can play in those reforms.
One of GFSI’s main objectives going forward is to establish partnerships with governments. Hosting these discussions is a unique way for GFSI to fulfil its core objectives, which are to reduce food safety risks by delivering equivalence and convergence between effective food safety management systems, developing food safety competencies and capacity building to create consistent and effective global food systems and providing a unique international stakeholder platform for collaboration, knowledge exchange and networking.
“Going forward, the hope is for this growing dialogue to create first-of-its kind understandings between world governments and business for a mutually beneficial results for consumers, industry and regulators” said Mike Robach, GFSI Chairman.
“GFSI is an example of reciprocity on a global scale. By investing in food safety together, sharing knowledge and harmonising systems, we can go beyond borders and barriers to ensure one safe global food supply,” said the Herman Diricks, Co-Chair of the G2G meeting. “We are excited to be participating in this groundbreaking collaboration with global food leaders, for the benefit of food safety.”