Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Cor Groenveld Interview - day one of the Global Food Safety Conference

This morning at the Global Food Safety Conference, we talked to Cor Groenveld, LRQA's Global Food Safety Expert. Here is what Cor had to say about the conference and about the organisations gathered here in Washington, D.C. (Listen to or download the audio podcast here)

I’m in Washington DC, the capitol of the United States, and I’m attending the Global Food Safety Conference of the GFSI, the Global Food Safety Initiative. This is the largest food safety conference in the world, and this is the tenth year they have organised it, and this is the first time it’s in the US, outside of Europe, so that’s great. What we see here is a high commitment to food safety, we have seven hundred delegates in the conference, and it will last until this Friday.

For LRQA, I have been participating in the global food safety community for the last ten years, I was there from the beginning, and I am also a member of the technical committee of GFSI. The technical committee always has meetings before the conference, we have at the moment sixty people attending the technical committee, and they have a number of working groups. It’s a great opportunity where manufacturers, retailers, the science certification bodies, accreditation bodies, representatives of all the stakeholders, they come together and they work together on improvement of food safety, in the supply chain, and that’s absolutely important. Still food safety is one of the most important worries in the food supply chain, but what is very interesting is we see also that other concerns are addressed, they talk about sustainability, they talk about corporate responsibility, all these kind of issues become more and more important.
And also GFSI, the scope of GFSI until now is food safety, but JP Suarez, he is the chairman of the board of directors of GFSI, he did an opening speech this morning for the stakeholder groups, and he said we have to consider, it’s not decided yet, but he said lets consider if we have to broaden the scope of our community. Perhaps we should also address other risk areas in the supply chain within GFSI, so that will be interesting in the conference that starts this afternoon, to see what people think about it. And we as a certification body, we are already working on that, and when you look at LRQA, we have a large number of global food clients, and of course with them we address food safety as one of the most important issues. But we also talk with them about integrated audits, integrated assessments, looking at risk areas that are important for their brand, for their image, and make sure they have a robust management system, to address these risk areas.
What is unique about this food conference, is if you look at the list of participants, we have all the major food companies here, we have Kraft, we have Danone, we have McDonalds, we have Cargill, Coca-Cola, and I can go on with the list, but not only the major food companies, also the major retailers, Wal-Mart, Carrefour, all those major retailers are here too. And they will be discussing what do we need to do in our supply chain, to make it secure, that is the biggest question they have, and again it’s not only about food safety, it’s about other risk areas too.
LRQA is 100% committed to the food supply chain. At the moment, we are a member of a lot of committees, we supported the development of ISO 22000, we are a member of the technical committee of the GFSI. And at the moment, I am also very proud to be the chair of the foundation for food safety certification, that’s the organisation that developed, FSSC 22000, and that combines, ISO22000 together with the PAS 220, and is the platform to have a robust, food safety management system.
When we talk with our clients, they want to have secure management system, for their food supply chain, and that is also what we offer, we offer a solution that is looking absolutely at food safety, but also at other risk areas. We can help our clients to develop that system, and also we can do the audits against the system, and we call that our Business Assurance approach. So, it’s not only about food safety it is making sure that the brand’s image and reputation of food companies will be at a high level, and that the food scares that we had in the past, but also problems with labour, problems with animal welfare, that these issues are covered by their management systems.

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