GFSI’s journey began 16 years ago, when a few leading retailers came together over a common desire to get a grip on food safety.
They set out to standardize understanding through establishing a benchmark system for certification schemes. With easily comparable quality and safety requirements. Beyond national boundaries, on a worldwide level. Now, GFSI has developed into a thought leader that binds people and organisations together. 

 was one of the first food retailers globally to demand adherence to GFSI-recognized standards from suppliers of own-brand food products in addition to our own food safety requirements. Ahold, as one of the founders of the Global Food Safety Initiative, has always contributed to GFSI because we believe in the vision “safe food for consumers, everywhere” and in the global approach that is used. Over the last 16 years, we have made big steps. We require all our own-brand food suppliers to meet the food safety requirements as laid out by any of the Global Food Safety Initiative standards. At the end of 2015, 96% of our own-brand food suppliers serving the European market, and 93% serving the U.S. market had been certified to a GFSI-recognized scheme.

Like 16 years ago, there is a never ending interest among many of our stakeholders in topics like product safety (the safety for both food and non-food products) and food fraud. As a retailer selling millions of products every year, we have a role to play in the supply chains of our products. Together with our suppliers, we have to make sure that our products meet all food safety criteria, that our own-brand products are sourced with respect for people, animals and the environment. We believe this is the right thing to do, and that it is crucial for the long-term sustainability of these supply chains.

The journey is never ending and within GFSI we continue to raise the bar of food safety. There are still areas with room for improvement. Think for instance of food allergen management and the different approaches in different countries around the world. We will push ahead on the road to food safety and I am very committed, in my years on the Board of GFSI, to contribute to the journey ahead!  

This post was written and contributed by:

Anita Scholte op Reimer

Vice-Chair of the GFSI Board of Directors
Senior Director Quality Assurance and Product Sustainability, Albert Heijn, The Netherlands

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