GFSI Chicken or BRC Egg…which came first?
This month marks the 15th anniversary of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) which was launched in May 2000.
According to Wikipedia: “The Global Food Safety Initiative is a business driven initiative for the continuous improvement of food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide. GFSI provides a platform for collaboration between some of the world’s leading food safety experts from retailer, manufacturer and food service companies, service providers associated with the food supply chain, international organizations, academia and government. Key activities within GFSI include the definition of food safety requirements for food safety schemes through a benchmarking process. This process leads to recognition of existing food safety schemes…”
The British Retail Consortium was formed in January 1992 when the British Retailers' Association and the Retail Consortium merged. In 1998 it produced the first edition of the BRC Food Technical Standard and Protocol for food suppliers.
Currently there are 10 GFSI recognized certification schemes benchmarked against the Global Food Safety Initiative Guidance Document Sixth Edition with a range of different scopes:
- BRC Global Standards (United Kingdom)
- FSSC 22000 (The Netherlands)
- IFS (Germany)
- SQF (USA)
- PrimusGFS (USA)
- CanadaGAP (Canada)
- Global Aquaculture Alliance (USA)
- GLOBALG.A.P. (Germany)
- Global Red Meat Standard (Denmark)
I’m a great advocate of the work GFSI does and what they have achieved, but GFSI’s original vision of ‘Once certified, recognized everywhere’ appears to have been dropped in favor of their new vision “Safe food for consumers everywhere”.
This will be a big disappointment to many in the industry who saw this as a major plus for the scheme, but it is perhaps an acceptance that the goal may not be possible with multiple third-party certifications still being required and the rise of customer own standards and audit programs.
According to GFSI Over 50,000 sites are now certified to one of the ten schemes that are recognised by GFSI.
The BRC Food Safety Standard, the first Food Safety Standard to be benchmarked by GFSI, has certificated over 15,000 suppliers in over 100 countries around the world. Together with the Packaging Standard BRC accounts for over one third of the 50,000 sites that are now certified to one of the ten schemes that are recognised by GFSI.
Of the other schemes, impressively FSSC 22000 now have over 11,000 certified sites across all scopes worldwide, according to the SQF website there are over 6,000 SQF certified sites worldwide (over 4,000 in the US 865 in Australia, 584 in Canada but not one in the UK where not surprisingly BRC is predominant).
In 2014 Sealed Air’s Diversey Consulting in collaboration with GFSI released the preliminary results of a ‘GFSI Efficacy Study’ which concluded:
“Certification to a GFSI recognized scheme demonstrates that food safety management systems are more effective, thus delivering greater confidence in the safety of the products which are delivered to the consumer,”
Further down in the linked press release you will note:
‘While the research also showed that short-term costs of implementing GFSI recognized schemes exist and that some of the efficiencies hoped for through the elimination of redundancies have not been realized, the GFSI Board will use these results to drive even greater operational efficiencies.’
At this link you can read the latest published GFSI Vision, Mission & Objectives
GFSI is reviewing the GFSI Guidance Document 6th Edition and expects the 7th Edition to be released in 2016. This edition is expected to require food fraud vulnerability assessments and control plans in accordance with the vulnerability assessment, …….. requirements included in BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 7 published January 2015. Hello Chicken, hello Egg!
***Update June 2019***
GFSI Consultation for Version 8 of GFSI Benchmarking Requirements
In April GFSI invited all stakeholders to participate in a global public consultation for Part III of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements Version 8 which will be published in February 2020 and incorporates new elements including:
Food safety culture
Compulsory testing of the traceability system
Regular site and equipment inspection
Controls of intakes
Reviewed scope numbering and definitions
So, what are the Proposed Changes?
This new version of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements introduces new numbering of the key elements in each section of the scopes and alignment between scopes. If we look at for the Scope of Processing of perishable animal and plant products (mixed products) for example. The Scope Processing of perishable animal and plant products (mixed products) has been changed from EIII to CIII and now includes ready to eat and perishable pet food.
So, let’s look at the main proposed changes for Scope CIII - Processing of perishable animal and plant products (mixed products).
New Requirements SECTION 1: HACCP OR HAZARD BASED REQUIREMENTS
HACCP CIII 1.1 There are new requirements for food safety standards to require the consideration of allergens and relevant law in hazard analysis.
New Requirements SECTION 2: FOOD SAFETY MANAGEMENT REQUIREMENTS
FSM CIII 2 Management commitment and food safety culture - There are new requirements for food safety standards to require evidence of a food safety culture.
FSM CIII 3 Management review - There are new requirements for food safety standards to require management review to cover all elements of the Food Safety Management System:
The senior management shall, regularly, and in case of any change that impacts food safety, review all elements of the Food Safety Management System, HACCP plan or HACCP-based plans to ensure their continuing suitability and effectiveness.
FSM CIII 13.1 Purchasing and supplier performance - There are new requirements for food safety standards to require purchasing procedures to ensure that all inputs to the process including externally sourced materials and services which have an effect on food safety, conform to specifications as well as food safety and regulatory requirements.
New FSM CIII 14.2 Traceability - Documented tests of the traceability system shall be undertaken to ensure this is operating effectively.
New FSM CIII 15 Product development - There are new requirements for food safety standards to require a product design and development procedure.
FSM CIII 19 Laboratory testing - There are new requirements for food safety standards to require analyses of food critical to food safety to be undertaken by competent laboratories using appropriate sampling and testing methods performed in accordance within the applicable requirements of ISO 17025:
FSM CIII 20.2 Internal audit - A risk-based microbiological environmental monitoring programme shall be established, implemented and maintained.
New Requirements in SECTION 3: GOOD INDUSTRY PRACTICE REQUIREMENTS
GMP CIII 1 Site environment - The site shall be located and maintained to prevent contamination and to enable the reception, storage, production and distribution of safe products.
GMP CIII 4 Product contamination risk and segregation - Procedures shall be established, implemented and maintained to prevent or minimize risk of contamination and cross-contamination of sourced materials, work in progress, rework, packaging and finished product covering all aspects of food safety.
GMP CIII 5 Employee facilities - Employee facilities including hand washing and toilet facilities, and public facilities where applicable, shall be provided, designed and operated to minimise food safety risks.
GMP CIII 8.1 Housekeeping, cleaning and hygiene - Procedure of housekeeping, cleaning and hygiene shall be established, implemented and maintained and effectiveness of cleaning shall be validated.
GMP CIII 9 Rework - Rework shall be managed to minimize food safety risks and not to compromise traceability.
GMP CIII 10 Site inspections/ checks - A programme of site inspections/ checks shall be established, implemented and maintained to ensure the site environment and processing equipment are maintained in a suitable condition to ensure food safety.
GMP CIII 11 Air and water quality - Air, compressed air, water (including ice and steam) in any form which is used in a way that could impact food safety shall be regularly monitored, and adequately stored and handled in order to minimize food safety risks.
GMP CIII 14 Intake - Appropriate procedures for the reception of sourced materials shall be established, implemented and maintained to assure that only materials that meet food safety requirements are accepted.
GMP CIII 17 Stock management - A procedure shall be established, implemented and maintained to ensure that sourced materials, work in progress and finished products are used in the correct order and within the allocated shelf life.
BRC vs GFSI
As per my previous comments the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety consistently ups the bar in terms of ‘driving best food safety management practices’. BRC Global Standards published Issue 8 of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety in August 2018, amongst other things Issue 8 included new requirements for encouraging the development of product safety culture and expanding the requirements for environmental monitoring. The table below shows where the ‘proposed benchmark requirements’ are already covered by the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety. The crux of the matter is that the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety appears to be ‘driving best food safety management practices’ not GFSI who are at least 2 years behind.
I’ll leave you with this:
BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8 is Now GFSI-Recognised 2019/05/23
"The Benchmarking of our standards by GFSI is an important added value to certificated sites because of the international customer recognition this brings," stated David Brackston Technical Director BRC GS. "Whenever we update our Standards, we are careful to ensure that this both covers existing benchmarking requirements and also has a view to the future with the introduction for example of clauses encouraging the development of food safety culture. We are delighted to have once again met GFSI Benchmarking Requirements for the new Standard."
GFSI congratulates BRC Global Standard on this new recognition and for their continual support of GFSI in driving best food safety management practices throughout the global supply chain. Hello Chicken, hello Egg!
GFSI Version 8 Changes vs BRC 8 Table.pdf (49.37KB)
If you are involved with GFSI Certification (well ok certification to a GFSI benchmarked standard) we'd love to hear your experiences and ideas...please comment.