Officially created in 2000, the Global Food Safety Initiative, commonly referred to as GFSI, is an organization that sets standards for food safety regulations. It was proposed at the Consumer Goods Forum, a conference held by leading food safety experts from all over the world.
GFSI is important for brands who outsource their food processing because they are responsible for making sure their suppliers follow GFSI standards (if required for your type of food production and end market).
Why GFSI Was Created
Prior to the establishment of the GFSI, the experts at the Consumer Goods Forum recognized a need to improve safety regulations in the food industry. According to an article on the history of GFSI, a rising number of recalls and declining consumer trust brought awareness to a lack of much-needed standards for the industry. Additionally, audits were previously conducted by members of the food supply chain or third-party companies such as QIMA. The lack of concrete standards, however, led to inconsistencies between members of the food supply chain.
The History of GFSI
The GFSI published its first set of requirements in 2001 but still struggled to be acknowledged. Approximately two years later, in 2003, a few specific sets of requirements (known as ‘schemes’) became accepted by the food industry – EFSIS, BRC, IFS, and the Dutch HACCP. These schemes helped build the foundation for common food safety standards. It wasn’t until 2007 when popular companies like Tesco and Wal-mart publicly revealed plans to participate in GFSI certification programs, that other companies in the food industry began to follow in their footsteps.
As the GFSI gained more public traction, a Global Food Safety Conference was held for the first time several years later in 2010. The GFSI has since continued to grow in size and recognition as a global organization of food safety standards. By uniting members of the food supply chain worldwide, GFSI certification programs have helped the industry find a balance of quality, efficiency, and consumer satisfaction.
Where there was a previous shortage of trained auditors, the GFSI’s standards paved the way for better training opportunities. It also led to a more cost- and time-efficient process of inspecting members of the food supply chain.
Benefits of GFSI Certification
The soaring popularity of GFSI certification created competition among the top companies in the food industry. This is due largely in part because of the benefits that being GFSI certified brings:
- GFSI certified companies saw an increase in the quality of their products
- Certifications required the problems within a company to be fixed before they were issued
- Achieved certificates allowed for attention to be directed toward other needed areas of improvement
- Holding a GFSI certification attracts consumers due to the higher standards required to obtain a certificate
For members of the food supply chain, obtaining a GFSI certification should be the beginning. Maintaining that certification by having audits done annually to ensure company standards do not drop will be beneficial. The growth of technology has been able to assist companies with the compliance and auditing process by keeping track or notifying them of any areas of concern. Between standards of GFSI certification, consumer satisfaction, and industry competition, the food industry remains unified in its never-ending journey to make food safety its top priority.