Choosing the right system for your company

With the choices of Food Safety Management Systems Certification, how can your organization choose the right Food Safety Management System Standard?

Choosing a Food Safety Management System Certification Program

The Global Food Safety Initiative, GFSI plays an important role in Food Safety Systems Certification. This organization has “benchmarked” existing food safety schemes. Once a system is “benchmarked” it means that certification to the scheme is accepted by organizations requiring a GFSI scheme. GFSI has now benchmarked schemes against the 6th Edition of its Guidance document. Recognized certification schemes as of August 2013 include:

  • SQF Safe Quality Food Edition 7.1, Level 2
  • FSSC 22000 - Food Safety System Certification
  • BRC Global Standard for Food Safety, Issue 6
  • IFS Food Version 6
  • Canada GAP
  • Global Red Meat Standard
  • Global GAP
  • Global Aquaculture Alliance Seafood Processing Standard
  • Check for most current list at GFSI

Having a GFSI recognized certification can be important to a company that is selling to one of the major retailers that has chosen to require a GFSI scheme. Because this list includes such giants as Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Tesco, Metro, Migros, Ahold, and Delhaize, the GFSI recognition is very important to many food companies.

Although it is not recognized by GFSI, ISO 22000 is also an important certification program to consider. The ISO 22000 standard can be applied to any company in the food chain, and is recognized worldwide. If your market does not require GFSI recognition, this is a standard to consider. It can also be very useful for companies if the scope of the other registrations does not apply to their industry segment. ISO 22000 is also an important piece of the benchmarked standard, FSSC 22000. ISO 22000 provides the requirements for the food safety management system for FSSC 22000.

The different schemes have similar contents, but the specifics of the requirements vary. The organization of the requirements and management of the certification program and audits are also different between the various standards.

To begin choosing the appropriate standard:
  • Determine if GFSI recognition is important for your organization. Are your customers requesting it, or does your market favor those schemes?
  • Review the programs and see if your industry segment is included in the scope of the certification. For example: Safe Quality Food, (SQF) can be applied to many different industry segments including food processing and manufacturing, manufacturing of food packaging materials, distribution of food products, animal feed manufacturers and more.
  • Identify the scheme documents that apply to your business.
    • For example, FSSC 22000 uses the ISO 22000 Standard and an additional document with requirements for the Prerequisite Program requirements. The document with the Prerequisite Program requirements is specific to your business segment.
      • ISO/TS 22002-1 - For food processors and manufacturers
      • ISO/TS 22002-4 - For food packaging manufacturers
    • SQF uses the SQF Code. The code is made up of Modules; all companies must comply with Module 2 plus one other Module that defines the requirements for GMPs for their industry segment.
      • Module 2 plus Module 11 for food processors
      • Module 2 plus Module 13 for food packaging manufacturers
      • Module 2 plus Module 4 for pet food processors
      • And more
    • SQF also offers two levels of certification that are GFSI recognized. Your organization can choose whether to build a system for Level 2 or Level 3
      • Level 2 - Build a food safety management system
      • Level 3 - Build a food safety and quality management system

The certification schemes are continually evolving, adding more businesses to their scope and issuing new revisions of documents.

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