• Reflects latest marketplace changes and stakeholder input.
• Result of continued private/public dialogue, such as with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
in regards to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Hot on the heels of February's publication of the new GFSI Benchmarking Requirements Version 7, Version 7.1 is now being released to the GFSI community and the food industry at large.
This collection of documents tailored for food safety certification programmes (schemes) is continually being updated to reflect the latest changes in the marketplace and new regulations relating to food safety.
Why a New Version?
As change happens both in the industry and the regulatory arena, GFSI ensures that all stakeholder input is taken into account. Since its inception, GFSI has led this two-way dialogue on a global level and and over the years, has engaged with more and more governments including Canada, the Netherlands, China and the United States.
The GFSI Benchmarking Requirements are – and will continue to be – continually updated to reflect the best practices adopted by industry and governments, both broadly and individually.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a good example of this. Thanks to ongoing discussions between GFSI and the U.S. FDA, experts have been able to incorporate a few new elements in Version 7.1 to continue to drive harmonisation and alignment in private and public approaches, in line with GFSI's vision of safe food for consumers, everywhere.
Food operators across the spectrum have long been asking the question of how GFSI requirements fit in with the U.S. FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). More specifically, the question has often been raised whether operations already certified to GFSI-recognised food safety certification programmes are in compliance with FSMA.
Perhaps just as often, experts have taken to blogs, reports, conferences and the press to answer that question. One renowned food safety expert, David Acheson, has published several opeds and reports on the matter and even conducted an independent gap analysis to very clearly position GFSI requirements in regards to FSMA regulations. In his piece What Does It Mean to be GFSI Certified in a FSMA Environment?, Dr. Acheson, CEO and Founder of The Acheson Group and former Associate Commissioner for Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration refers again to his findings that "(1) Having a GFSI certification will put you in a good place for FSMA compliance; and (2) The bottom line is that, when properly implemented, both GFSI and FSMA will protect the food supply to the same extent."
Version 7 was a broader revision than V7.1, bringing in new requirements to fight food fraud, to incorporate unannounced audits and overall to increase transparency and objectivity in the benchmarking process. It also contributed to expanding GFSI's inclusive farm-to-fork approach by incorporating the new scope of the supply chain Food Brokers and Agents in this edition.
Version 7.1 adds a couple of new clauses for each scope under Food Safety Management Requirements, such as purchasing from non-approved suppliers and importantly, compliance with food safety legislation.
What are the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements?
Since its inception in 2000, GFSI has brought together stakeholders representing the global food industry to collaborate on advancing food safety. An essential part of that goal is to create a common and widely-accepted understanding of what constitutes a good food safety system. That is precisely what GFSI's Benchmarking Requirements, previously known as the GFSI Guidance Document, have done. This tool has become the world's most widely accepted benchmark document for food safety requirements.
Once successfully benchmarked against it, food safety certification programmes achieve GFSI recognition, which lends a nameplate authority to these certifications and acts as a food safety passport of sorts throughout the global marketplace.
How Can I Access the Documents?
Designed for private food safety certification programme owners (CPOs), the Benchmarking Requirements are available for download on www.myGFSI.com for CPOs who wish to renew their recognition as well as new CPOs applying for GFSI benchmarking for the first time. Companies interested in certification to a GFSI-recognised CPO are invited to consult the list on the GFSI website and contact the CPO which best fits their operations.