Benefits of GFSI Certification
How does being certified to an accredited food safety standard benefit your business? With specific safety and, in some cases, quality requirements, and system requirements, each of the standards requires a detailed third-party independent assessment (certification audit) that is carried out on site at least once per year. The purpose of this audit is to ensure that the systems are in place, monitored, in use, and effective. This independent measure is not used as a “snapshot” of current conditions; rather, it evaluates the overall process and mechanics of the operations, assessing the ability to function day-to-day and in times of crises.
The process of meeting certification requirements is rigorous and well defined within each standard. The requirements are such that all parts of the standard being evaluated are met, and all non-conformances found during an audit must be successfully corrected prior to the issuance of certification status. In addition, as this is a live certification, any recall that is mandated has to be reported to the certification body, so that additional evaluation can be undertaken, if required.
In final, the choice of which standard to utilize and be certified to is the decision of the individual operation. The act of enriching and sustaining a top-level food safety program, and being certified, or as more commonly is the case is much more of a requirement than a choice in today’s marketplace by the suppliers customer.
Recall prevention is what all food safety standards are about as well as providing the opportunity to thoroughly inspect all of an organization’s systems for managing food safety. Through these inspections, there are transparent opportunities to avert food recalls and maintain a healthy food trade environment. Importantly, these standards contain clauses pertaining to the management of product recalls, product withdrawal, and incidents to continually test them. So that in the event product safety incident or recall, the company can react quickly to protect the public.
Others clauses include:
- Adherence to personal hygiene principles, to document infractions in this area, and, through continuous improvement practices, ensures that they do not happen again. Close monitoring in this area reinforces that employees are committed to adhering to the policies, which further ensures compliance in this area.
- Requirements to strictly define and control access points for employees and visitors to the facility. Companies are required to ensure that access will not compromise product safety.
- Monitoring and measurement devices are routinely inspected and calibrated to ensure precise frequencies, quantities, and more.
- Nonconforming product is clearly identified, labeled, and quarantined. Procedures for this control are in place and understood by all relevant staff. Corrective actions shall be implemented to avoid recurrence of nonconformance, and details of the nonconformance shall be documented.
- Undertake inspection and analysis that are critical to confirm product safety, legality, and quality. Based on risk assessments, testing and inspection schedules are implemented to ensure that requirements are met. Results should be reviewed regularly to identify trends. In several standards, foreign-body detection equipment is required to be in place.
- All facilities used for the storage and transportation of product, movement around the facility, and dispatch of finished product shall be suitable for the purpose, maintained in good repair, and be in proper hygienic condition.
- Specific parts of the audits are designed to monitor issues such as pest control, waste disposal, chemical management, and other variables.
- The physical facilities, such as ventilation, lighting, utilities, walls, floors, and windows are all inspected to ensure that they are suitable for the intended purpose.
- Security shall be maintained to prevent access of unauthorized persons.
The above measures are examples of how food safety management system standards create great opportunities for reducing food recalls and ensuring the safety of our food from field to fork.
Finding the standard that suits the specific needs of your organization is essential to a successful implementation. This can be successfully accomplished by listening to your customer’s demands, getting yourself educated about the different food-safety standards through formal training or information sessions, and considering using the help of an outside consult during the implementation phase of your project. External expertise could greatly assist you in identifying your situation, and through a GAP assessment help you foresee the challenge. When you are ready for registration, make sure to look for an accredited registrar that will provide you the assurance you need that your system is in place, and working toward your goals of reducing the risk of recalls and improving the quality and safety of the food that you manufacture.