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Will Customers ever fully accept GFSI Scheme Certificates?


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#1 skredsfan

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 07:44 PM

One of the things I've often read, regarding certification to a GFSI Scheme is that it should help reduce the number of customer audits that you receive, because it's globally accepted! We were recently certified to FSSC 22000 (Packaging Manufacturer). I've been filling out customer surveys and audit checklists like they're going out of style!! Does anyone think that customers, will eventually accept your certificate as verification of your functioning systems, rather than auditing them?


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#2 Simon

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 07:59 PM

You can only hope.

 

Many of the large retailers such as Tesco, Wallmart and others (who originally wanted BRC etc.) carry out their own audits again.  You can only comprehend they do this because they do not fully trust GFSI audits.  This lack of trust stems from continual food safety issues, recalls, fraud etc. from suppliers that are certified to GFSI schemes.  Something isn't working.

 

It's the job of the standard owners and accreditation bodies to be ruthless with certification bodies and auditors who do not make the grade.  Otherwise we all lose.


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#3 George @ Safefood 360°

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 11:23 PM

One of the original arguments offered for the movement to certification and the GFSI in general was reduction and duplication of audits by retailers.

 

Time has proven this to be not the case. In fact many companies have reported an increase in the number of audits they undergo. The retailers have varied in how they require their suppliers to be fit for purpose (food safety wise). As Simon points out Tesco and others continue to audit their suppliers, however these tend to be more product and process focused and follow the basic requirements of GFSI certification. As far as I am aware Walmart do not conduct their own audits and rely on some of the GFSI standards. I may be wrong on this.

 

In regard to customers, the GFSI and Retailer technical standards still maintain the requirement for a company to assess and audit its suppliers based on risk assessment so you will likely have to continue with this.

 

George  


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#4 Hildegard

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 12:27 PM

We have the same problem in South Africa with the main Retailers. The "technical" standards developed and re-developed by the retailers are almost duplicates of the GFSI recognized international food safety/quality and legality standards or the benchmark standard from GFSI, with a few 'add-on's' here and there to simplify the audits and room for misinterpretation between auditors. 

 

Why focus so much energy on re-inventing the wheel each year, then choosing a Certification Body with whom the retailer is affiliated with (conflict of interest and prohibited practice according to our Competition Act of 1998)

 

Chapter 2: Prohibited Practices, Part A: Restrictive Practices

5: Restrictive vertical practices prohibited

"1)An agreement between parties in a vertical relationship is prohibited if it has the effect of substantially preventing or lessening competition in a market, unless a party to the agreement can prove that any technological, efficiency or other pro-competitive, gain resulting from that agreement outweighs that effect.

 

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#5 oronogirl

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 12:54 PM

Having many (many) years ago gone through the progression of multiple supplier standards in the automotive industry where absolutely no overlap of documentation was allowed between the competitiors to the single standard of ISO9000/QS9000/TS16949, I was shocked when I started working in the primary packaging industry that this old way was still in use.  Let's face it, if the automotive industry can change ... just about every other industry should be able to as well.

 

From the primary packaging world aspect, I think that for some Corporation's huge empires have been built in the Supplier Quality areas and only time will evaporate those budgets. 

 

At least we don't have to have procedures written in the Ford format and the Chrysler format and the GM format!!  So I still have my fingers crossed.


Edited by oronogirl, 20 February 2014 - 12:59 PM.

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#6 Nancy@Masser's

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 01:49 PM

Hello! We are a fresh produce (potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions) supplier and have been SQF certified since 2008. What we are seeing is that retailers still don't really understand food safety.  They know they need "something", and they've heard about "GAPs" and they've heard about GFSI; but they don't understand the difference, or even what they mean; and they don't know what to ask for. Plus, they also continue to get courted by a variety of 3rd party certification firms who tell them that THEIR audit scheme is the best.  No offense to anyone associated with PrimusLabs, but Primus is a big one for this.  Hence, retailers then think that the PrimusGFS scheme is the "best", and don't want to accept SQF or BRC (when these two were actually the first GFSI schemes accepted in the U.S.); and all three are equivalent.  I've had to do a lot of fast talking and justification to get some of our customers to understand that SQF is also a GFSI scheme and needs to be accepted as well.

 

Additionally, some retailers (*cough Costco*) accept GFSI audits, but then want their own little addendum for produce which has some compliance points that are unreasonable and unneeded for low-risk products like ours.  Our last auditor agreed on this and actually felt badly that he had to give us two non-conformances on the Costco produce addendum.  But, we simply were not going to do them.  There is no risk.  And guess what?  Costco hasn't stopped buying product from us. 

 

I mentioned GAPs before.  For fresh produce suppliers, this is also an area where we're seeing confusion by retailers.  The USDA GAP/GHP audit scheme (while a fine audit), is not GFSI benchmarked (it really needs to be), but many retailers are still asking for a GAP audit, while not understanding that GFSI audits also cover Good Agricultural Practices.  Again an area where I've had to "prove" to our customers that Module 7 of the SQF scheme IS a GAP audit.

 

We also have some customers who continue to send their QA people in every once in a while to do their own audits even though they still want our GFSI certification.  And then there are also customers who don't send a QA person in, but send us lengthy questionnaires to complete, in addition to wanting our GFSI certification. 

 

So, no, having a GFSI certification has not made things simpler and has not decreased the amount of paperwork and requirements by retailers.  Additionally, now many of our retailers also want us to be registered on databases like iCiX, Azzule, and TraceGains.  So, once again, because someone convinced these retailers that these databases are THE THING to help them track all their suppliers' information, we suppliers are continuing to be burdened with having to keep ourselves updated in these databases.  Big exclamation pointed, red-lettered e-mails come that say, "YOUR DOCUMENTATION IS NOT COMPLETE IN ICIX!  LOG ON NOW TO GET IN COMPLIANCE, OR SUCH AND SUCH RETAILER WILL STOP BUYING YOUR PRODUCTS!"  I'm exaggerating somewhat, but sometime it seems that way. 

 

Ok, sorry, this got a little rantish, but I think it's safe to say we're all still a bit frustrated (and tired =D). I don't know what the answer is, but it seems that retailers need some more education and the education needs to go right down to the minimum wage workers in the stores and the phone jockeys in Sales and category management, so they know what they are talking about and asking for.


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#7 Dave R

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 03:43 PM

One of the things I've often read, regarding certification to a GFSI Scheme is that it should help reduce the number of customer audits that you receive, because it's globally accepted! We were recently certified to FSSC 22000 (Packaging Manufacturer). I've been filling out customer surveys and audit checklists like they're going out of style!! Does anyone think that customers, will eventually accept your certificate as verification of your functioning systems, rather than auditing them?

I have been wondering the same this as we are nearing the completion of FSSC22000 -M (Packaging).  Customers are excited about it but htey still plan on doing their own thing,  Perhaps if we start filling our their forms with "see attached certificate" and documents resquests with "covered under attached certificate" the message might begin to get through.  Just a thought.


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#8 Snookie

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 04:15 PM

Nancy you are soooo right!!!!!  I agree completely!


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#9 jax2016

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 01:57 PM

this is not just on food items. I work for a gift packing company and all customers have their individual requirements regardless of gift pack contents. this is also applied to ethical audits and which companies they will accept to undertake the audit. some of our packs can contain up to 7 items and each has to be audited and even if we are using one company for two customers - if they do not share the common auditor then we have to audit the site twice. this is becoming very costly. our food sites also have a BRC A grade and still require a audit to check the site for food processes. it is a very exhausting process however we have to oblige to our customers requirements or they will not take our business.


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#10 skredsfan

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 04:09 PM

Great responses everyone! Also glad to see so an increased number of threads from people in the packaging industry! When I started my educational journey a couple of years ago to get our company certified, there wasn't a lot of info to be had for us packagers. Glad that Simon and a few others guided me down the right path. And how cool is it that my thread was selected as IFSQN's Hot Topic of the week!!! :rock:


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#11 Charles.C

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 06:45 PM

Dear skredsfan,

 

Maybe the packaging people will soon be able to empathise with this as well -

 

http://www.ifsqn.com...its/#entry62773

 

Rgds / Charles.C


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#12 tropifood

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 08:09 PM

I have already some time a discussion with the Dutch NVWA about the value of a commercial certification.

This was their reply:

 

If you  want to rely on certifications from third countries, then you will agree with me that here more often these could be classified as "unreliable", not to speak of "fraud".

 

so, congratulated: high education in food science at Uni or Bachelor degree, special training for the food schemes like BRC, IFS, ISO 22000, working at sometimes over a century worldwide appreciated certifyers like BV, DNV, IsaCert, Intertek, Lloyds, SGS, TUV etc, but.. your work is seen by the official Dutch governmental food authority as... even... "FRAUD ".

 

info at tropifood dot net


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#13 SQFconsultant

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 12:35 AM

Just say NO!  Yes, that's right, that is what I said.   When another customer calls up and tells you that you need to submit to another audit you answer NO! and then say - I am already SQF certified (or IFS, or BRC, or FSSC, etc).

 

It's so easy for a customer to demand a certain type of audit or tell you that because so and so did the audit that they want this other company to do another audit.

 

Recently in answer to this question from two of our clients we told them to just say NO and explain to their customers why they were not going to allow this to go on.

 

They are still very much in business and still have the same customers as before.  

 

And then we have also had a clients customer call us to explain how an SQF certification is the same as a GFSI certification - you start to realize how many people at many of your customers headquarters have no clue what they are doing and they are demanding that you (the supplier) spends countless hours, frustration and $$ on more preparation for more audits that contain the same requirements as the certification you already have.

 

Just say no.


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Glenn Oster

 

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Serving clients in: USA, Costa Rica, Panama & Caribbean Islands

International Toll-Free: 800-546-1452

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/getgoc

 

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#14 Snookie

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 12:37 AM

No wonder our food costs so much...... :doh: ,  forget the weather, its the crazy redundancies!  :rolleyes:


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#15 moskito

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 01:10 PM

Hi all,

 

as a huge bakery company we have today IFS and BRC. We have skipped ISO 9000ff a few years ago, because noboy asked for that certificate for years. I see that the number of customers accepting a certificate (IFS or BRC) without own audit are decreasing. UK customers like M&S, Teso, Sainsbury etc are perfoming their audits in addition to BRC. But we are not able to switch to IFS and FSSC 22000 and skipping BRC, keeping the audit load on the same level (we have in addition environment, energy, sustainable RSPO, UTZ).

French customers sometimes excepting "certificates" but only if we provide access to full audit report. In Germany Lidl has started a few years ago unannounced audits.

For me I don't see really an acceptance of certification in Europe (don't talking about worldwide acceptance) what was the idea by introducing BRC and IFS. Today this is minimum requirement - not less, not more.

Customers dictate what they want to see what is really a problem not only with certificate itself but also with details. One example is the  difference in testing metal detection equipment and fail safe checks in guidelines from M&S and Tesco. In our plants we will perform every day one (1) kind of testing which is our own. This is in that case done acccording one of these customers because we are introducing the methods acc to our risk assessment. And we will not switching the method in dependence for we of our customers we are producing. That is too buggy. We are performing our QMS.

 

Finally, it is not the decision of applicants and experts, it is the requirement and power of the trade what has to be introduced in a company. By doing that they want to make the difference - have a look on the homepage of the UK retailers. We want to be the first in .... (Food Safety, GMO, Sustainability, ....). In vegetable they are requirering 50% less than the legal - safer than safe.

In don't see an agreement on a world wide excepted standard. Any certifiction agreed on might be the minimum only. The best always want to be better than a minimum - make the difference !

 

Regards

 

moskito


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