Dear Supplier, You Must Be
Certified; Resistance Is Futile
How to select the best GFSI
scheme for your needs
“But I don’t understand. We’ve been your trusted supplier of baked goods for 25 years and now you’re telling us we need to be GFSI certified or else you are going to drop us as a supplier?
Can’t we talk about this? What do you mean this is
nonnegotiable? You don’t care which GFSI program we
go for? Well that’s helpful. OK. We’ll get on it. Thanks
for your continued business.” Click. Brian puts down
the phone and calls the quality assurance director into
“Shawn, that was Susan, the brand director from
What Is GFSI?
Kreeeger’s. She said this third-party inspection thing
we’ve been doing for years is no longer going to cut it.
She’s given us until the end of the year to be certified
against this GFSI-thingie, whatever it is. She said to pick
“Brian, I’ve been telling you the industry has been
moving in this direction for years and you haven’t want-
ed to listen. Now we have just a few months to make
this happen. Kreeeger’s is just the latest and most vocal
customer asking for this—we’ve had several retailers ask
us to do GFSI and you’ve managed to put them off. I
am going to need your full support on this. This is seri-
ous stuff. It is going to mean big changes around here.”
And with a flick of the wrist, Brian replies, “Make it
And so it starts, Shawn’s journey into implementing
a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)-recognized food
safety management system (FSMS, or
scheme) into their private-label bakery
operation to satisfy customer demand.
But what does this mean and which one
should Shawn choose?
GFSI is an industry-driven global
collaborative platform to advance
food safety worldwide. It consists of a
multinational group of passionate food
safety experts representing retail, manufacturing and foodservice companies,
as well as experts from international
organizations, governments, academia
and service providers to the food industry. These professionals are looking to
improve the safety of every link in the
whole of the food supply chain, around
the world, regardless of the size of the
One of the tools it uses to achieve
this mission is the benchmark and
recognition process for FSMSs. The
organization measures these systems
against criteria developed by multiple
stakeholder groups set forth in the GFSI
Guidance Document. The criteria address minimum requirements for an
FSMS. In addition, the guidance document describes the requirements for
the overall management of the scheme,
including the certification audit and
certification process. Schemes that meet
these requirements through the benchmark process are officially known as
“GFSI-recognized.” These schemes are
posted on the GFSI website (see “Useful
Web Links,” p. 74).
What Are the FSMS Choices?
There are currently four GFSI-recognized management systems that apply
to the scope of Shawn’s food manufacturing operation:
1. British Retail Consortium Global
Standard for Food Safety (BRC
2. Food Safety Systems Certification
By Tatiana A. Lorca, Ph.D., and John G. Surak, Ph.D.