Understanding GFSI Standards

In the world of food safety, acronyms seem to be everywhere. The food industry seems to love them, with a shortening of so many food industry related businesses and terms. In this blog post, I want to talk about GFSI and how it fits into the compliance and 3rd party certification process.

What does GFSI stand for?

Global Food Safety Initiative

What is the purpose of GFSI?

To continually improve food safety management systems on a global level. GFSI provides a platform for food safety experts to collaborate.

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) was created in 2000 to help address the global issue of food safety. It is a landmark initiative of The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a global industry network working to support Better Lives Through Better Business. They aim to build consumers’ trust in the food they buy – no matter where their food has come from, nor where in the world they live – by improving food safety management practices.

How does the GFSI impact my food business?

There are several ways GFSI can impact on your business. This is mainly through the business supply chain. In order to “do business” with a certain customer, they may require you to comply with, and be certified against, the requirements of a GFSI recognised scheme.

What is a scheme and how do they get recognised?

A scheme is a 3rd party certification standard which outlines requirements or rules for the production of safe quality food. When you get audited, you are being checked against the rules that a scheme has documented within their set of rules.

For a scheme to be recognised by GFSI, they themselves have to meet the requirements or rules that have been documented within the GFSI Guidance Document. The process is also known as benchmarking and seeks to ensure a common foundation for managing food safety.

Recognised GFSI Schemes

The following Certification Programme Owners (CPOs) are currently* recognised against GFSI Guidance Document, V2020.

  • CanadaGAP
  • Equitable Food Initiative (EFI)
  • Freshcare
  • FSSC 22000
  • Global Seafood Alliance
  • Global G.A.P
  • Global Red Meat Standard (GRMS)
  • JFSM (Japan Food Safety Management Association)
  • PrimusGFS
  • Safe Quality Food (SQF)
  • Asia GAP

*As of 21 February 2023

Which scheme should you use?

It is entirely up to you and your business what scheme that you use. However, it is a good idea to check with your customer as to which one that they want you to have. Doing a little bit of research before you start writing documents and procedures and implementing within your business will save you both time and money in the long run.

If all your customer states is you can choose any GFSI recognised scheme, consider the following:

  • What food industry that you operate within.
  • Your production processes (high-risk, medium-risk, low-risk).
  • The construction requirements in comparison with the age of your premises.
  • Availability of 3rd party certification bodies (who will do the audit) located in your area.
  • The level of management commitment
  • The ability to meet all of the requirements set out in the scheme rules. It is suggested that you obtain a copy of the scheme’s standard and review the requirements.

HACCP Mentor would love to hear from you! Let us know which scheme you use and why you choose that particular one over others.

2 thoughts on “Understanding GFSI Standards”

  1. I have lost my job due not taking my religious necklace off. Even though I have carried out my risk assessment, high neck tops which covers over top of my neck, so if my chain broke it would fall into my top and gets lodged into my Jean’s under my overalls. I have never taken my chain off for my operation or xray since I was 14 years old.

    1. Amanda Evans-Lara

      Sorry to read that Anuja. Unfortunately, I cannot advise on your situation or the policy for your food business.

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