The Global Food Safety Initiative

April 12, 2016 By

During the 1990s there were a series of high profile global food safety crises. From a regulatory point there was a lack of direction, a lack of oversight and a lack of consistency on a global scale. Retailers and brand manufacturers tried to take matters into their hands but were hopelessly trying to minimize food safety risk by auditing suppliers against a countless number of in-house developed standards. There was no consistency in the industry and as a result the major retailers of the world decided to converge and establish a non-profit organization that could help to develop and recognize appropriate food safety standards, or certification schemes, to apply across the board. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) was born.

Today GFSI recognizes 10 food safety certification schemes, including SQF, BRC and FSSC 22000. Over 77,000 processing facilities around the world are certified to one of these schemes. Some of the major retailers already have over 70% of their food supply chain certified. The numbers are staggering. The regulatory bodies continue with their efforts to catch up. In the US we are experiencing the phase in of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and in Canada the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA). However, the requirements under these new systems remain unclear and it has become industry understanding that if you are certified to a GFSI scheme you are considered lower risk and less likely to be inspected under FSMA and SFCA.

The benefits are clear and the overall preference for GFSI from industry is starting to have even the most unlikely parties seeking out certification. For example, dietary supplement manufacturers and pet food producers. The consensus is that the consumer has a very broad application to the term food. Whether it be food for your pet or a protein powder that you mix with your smoothie in the morning, to the consumer it is a food. This same application of the term is being adopted by retailers and they are consequently putting on the pressure to seek out a GFSI certification scheme not just on the processors of conventional food products, but processors of all food products.

If you would like to learn more about GFSI, its certification schemes, and which one may best apply to your business, please feel free to contact us at