Thursday, 11 February 2010

GFSI, FSSC 22000 and Washington, D.C.

I just returned from the GFSI Food Safety Conference that was held last week in Washington DC. With a few days delay because as you all will know the weather conditions were extreme. It snowed for more then 30 hours this weekend and the centre of the city had 70 cm…
The conference was one of the best ever organised by GFSI. Especially because it was held for the first time in the USA. Third party certification in the USA is emerging. Mainly because the retailers and large food manufacturers realise that robust systems are needed to achieve the highest level of assurance of food safety and quality in the food supply chain.
In the past the food industry in the US mainly relied on audits against private schemes and on the fact that food companies were approved by the authorities like the FDA and the USDA. But the growing need to improve food safety systems and to have an independent verification system by accredited third party audit companies has changed this. And not in the last place because of a number of severe food incidents taking place in several countries.
In Europe we had already the GFSI system of recognizing Food Safety Certification schemes. And retailers in the USA (like WalMart) are starting to use the GFSI approach too. That means that they require their suppliers to have an accredited third party certification in place against one of the GFSI recognized schemes.
It is also important to see what the manufacturers are doing. What I see is that a lot of them want to use the FSSC 22000 scheme. This scheme is built on ISO 22000 (standard for Food Safety Management Systems) and PAS 220 (standard for prerequisite programmes for Food manufacturers). The scheme is already provisionally approved by GFSI and the full approval was on the agenda of the GFSI Board meeting scheduled last Friday in…….Washington. And you might guess it, the snow changed all of those plans. Due to the weather conditions the meeting was postponed. I hope the Board will be able to take this decision in the coming weeks. But waiting on this, unaccredited FSSC 22000 can already take place and certification bodies will start the accreditation process this year.
After my presentation in Washington on Food Supply Chain Assurance I often got the question what makes FSSC 22000 different then the other GFSI recognised schemes. I think the content of the schemes are very similar but FSSC 22000 is based on truly independent and international standards and the Foundation that owns the scheme is a non profit organisation.

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