GFSI updates its benchmarking criteria: What can we expect?

Constanze Illner Food Safety & Hygiene, Revisions

Update: September 2020

“Safe food for consumers everywhere”. The vision of the Global Food Safety Initiative’s (GFSI) can only be put into practice if the requirements for food safety reflect the latest developments and learnings from the industry. In 2020 GFSI released an updated version of their benchmarking criteria: GFSI 2020. What’s about to change and what do these changes mean for customers that are certified to IFS, BRCGS and FSSC 22000?

The Global Food Safety Initiative was created in the year 2000 to find collaborative solutions to collective concerns, notably to reduce food safety risks, audit duplication and costs while building trust throughout the supply chain. For this reason GFSI introduced their so called benchmarking requirements, which define expectations that certification schemes must correspond with in order to be recognized by GFSI. Schemes like IFS, BRCGS and FSSC 22000 have adopted these requirements in order to achieve GFSI recognition.

When GFSI prepares a new version of its requirements, certification schemes adopt the changes in order to maintain this recognition. Therefore, the GFSI requirements are a good indicator of the type of changes we can expect in food safety schemes in the coming years. Let’s take a look at that future together.

What is about the change in the new GFSI version?

The revision incorporates new elements that have taken center stage in the food safety conversation. One of these elements is food safety culture. This term describes shared values, beliefs and norms that affect the mindset and behaviour toward food safety in, across and throughout an organization. Elements of food safety culture are those elements of the Food Safety Management System which the senior management of a company may use to drive the food safety culture within the company. These may include, but are not limited to communication about food safety policies and responsibilities, training, employee feedback on food safety related issues and performance measurement. Last year GFSI already published a position paper regarding this topic. You can find the summary here. Find out why food safety culture is so important in this blog post.

Furthermore, the new version introduced the compulsory testing of the traceability system. Another change is related to the product development. Product design and development procedure shall be established, implemented and maintained for new products or changes to product or manufacturing processes to ensure safe and legal products are produced.

In version 2020, GFSI strengthens the transparency and objectivity in the examination process. Unannounced audits are no longer voluntary, but are now mandatory. You can find detailed information about this change here. In addition, a minimum audit duration was introduced.

Further information

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Constanze Illner Administrator
Constanze Illner is Research & Communication Officer at DQS CFS GmbH
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Constanze Illner Administrator
Constanze Illner is Research & Communication Officer at DQS CFS GmbH
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