The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) released the latest version of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements, a document outlining what makes a good food safety system and enabling the benchmarking of food safety certification programs.

Version 7.2 focuses on improving auditor competency and covering the entire supply chain, providing fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) businesses with an outline of requirements for a robust food safety infrastructure and explaining the step-by-step process for applying for a GFSI-recognized certification program.

GFSI also released an update to its Technical Equivalence documents for public government-owned programs. This now includes a formal published process and technical requirements aligned to the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements.

The GFSI Auditor Exam 

Version 7.2 introduces requirements for auditors of GFSI-recognized certification programs to have passed an exam. The exam is based on the content of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements and is designed to assess competency across a range of skills. The exam questions cover both sector-specific technical skills, such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) requirements and standard auditing skills such as sampling and evidence gathering.

Certification program owners have nine months to translate into their program's management processes and three years to assess all auditors.

To mitigate against the scale of this undertaking, the benchmarking requirements include a mutual recognition of exam results between CPOs. This means auditors may only need to take the exam once. Assessing auditors will ensure a baseline knowledge for all auditors, and thus increase further confidence in GFSI-recognized certification.

Covering the whole supply chain—from farm to fork 

In addition to the auditor exam, two new scopes of recognition were introduced in version 7.2 of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements:

  • Catering (Scope G)
  • Retail and wholesale (Scope H)

With these latest additions, the GFSI scopes of recognition now cover the full supply chain from farm to fork.

The goal is to certify chain of custody, if possible, all the way from primary production to the end consumer. Each link in the chain is strengthened by certified food safety management systems and good industry practice.

A collaborative effort 

A key objective of GFSI is to provide a unique international stakeholder platform for collaboration, knowledge exchange and networking.

"I would like to thank everyone who participated in this effort,” says Marie-Claude Quentin, GFSI senior technical manager. “This latest version is certainly the strongest yet, and will lay the foundation for future versions. We're extremely grateful to every member of the group who worked hard to pull this version together."