Customer requirements are very compelling reasons when food industry playersmake important decisions. Embarking in Global Food Safety (GFSI) Initiativecertifications, for instance, is certainly one of those motives; in both nationaland international arenas.
Food companies, therefore, face the need to researchthe GFSI benchmarked standard(s) their customers want. Food Safety certification options inthe realm of food distribution seems to be limited today. (Crandall, Mauromoustakos, O’Bryan,Thompson, Yiannas, Bridges and Francois,2017). Bogadi, Banovi? and Babi? (2016) also note that despitethe similarities among them, they have some differences that can make itdifficult to know which certification scheme is appropriate to implement. Furthermore, company-specificproblems and business needs can have a big impact on the identification andimplementation of a GFSI standard. In fact, choosing which GFSI benchmarked standard an enterpriseshould incorporate can become hard-going endeavor. That being the case, the author has considered a Consultative Reportfor the food distributor for whom he works. Such enterprise has 24,000employees, over 70 distribution centers across the U.
S., and multiple foodserviceand grocery offices. Recently the company decided to embark in GFSIcertifications in 2018.Just in the foodservice division, the business serves 36,000restaurant locations across the U.S through 49 strategically locateddistribution centers; and exports to 52 countries around the globe. The author considers his employer to be anindustry leader. Similarly, his company looks forward to soon engaging in thecontinuous improvement culture through either SQF, BRC, IFS or the like.
This ConsultativeReport category would offer the author the opportunity to address the dilemmahis company is encountering in deciding the right fit for a GFSI standard. Hewill need to work closely with a faculty advisor and company management. Also, hewill eventually have to perform the consultation for the company and writerecommendations. The goal is for this work to equip similar food supply chainbusinesses with the knowledge and methods to ascertain a scheme that has theoverall best fit for their organizations. Maybe the selection and implementation process of such standard(s) maybe less daunting. LITERATURE REVIEW: Based on the literature review fromthe author, there appears to be a lack of scholarly articles on the GFSI topic.It seems instead that there are more trade publications, as the subject ofglobal food safety certifications is relatively an emerging food safetyindustry topic.
According to Crandall et al.(2017), there are about half a dozen options when considering aninternationally accepted food safety certification for wholesale grocers and distributors.Additionally, company-specificchallenges and business needs can have a big impact on the identification andimplementation of a GFSI standard. In fact, selecting the GFSI standard a givencompany would have to implement can be an intimidating decision (Almanza , 2004). Let us take an example of a large U.
S. based food distributor withthousands of employees, dozens of foodservice and grocery warehouses servicingchain restaurants, mass merchants, convenience stores and drugstores. Once suchcompany has decided to embark in GFSI certifications, what is next? And, mostimportantly, what to consider when choosing a recognized GFSI managementscheme? Company Characteristics and CustomerRequirement:Kassa,Silverman, and Baroudi (2010) suggest that, when choosing a food safety schemefor a company, it is very important to make sure that the scheme fits theorganization perfectly. Crandall, Van Loo,O’Bryan, Mauromoustakos, Yiannas, Dyenson, and Berdnik. (2012) conclude that it is imperative to select the schemethat best suits the enterprise by knowing well the requirements of the rules,and the customers.
Thatis a vital reason, especially when a significant number of European agri-fooddistribution companies demand that their suppliers meet some type of standard.So, if the customer demands a certain standard, reasonably, a necessary step tomaintain the business relationship in the medium and long term is to certify bythat scheme (Higgins, 2011). Whendeciding which standard to be certi?ed by, a company should ask its customer(s)if they prefer a specific certification scheme.
Jacxsens, Boxstael,Nanyunja, Jordaan, Luning and Uyttendaele. (2015) show that the organization can also visit withfellow processors that are GFSI certi?ed and discuss with them what scheme theyare certi?ed by and why they chose that scheme. Nationality of your foreign clients and the diffusion of the norm:The origin of clients is a very important aspect. Depending on their countries of origin or nations where they operate, customers can demand one or multiple standards. BRC began by addressing the needs of British distributors (members of the British Retail Consortium) servicing worldwide retailers and manufacturers of own-brand products, especially in the United States and South America.
About five years ago, there were 13,000 BRC-certified suppliers in more than 100 countries. In the case of IFS (International Food Standard), the number of certified companies was 17,000 worldwide in 2012. That year it appeared to be the most globally widespread, having been translated into 20 languages.
While BRC was available in only 10 the same year (Crandall et al., 2012). Bogadi et al. (2016) point out that the IFS standard is widely found in Europe, with a strong presence in the countries of origin (Germany, France and Italy). It is also the most prevalent standard in Spain and has a presence in the American continent and Asia: a total of 96 countries. Currently, the IFS standard has seen a strong expansion in the number of certification audits. Natu’oil Services (2016) invites us to believe that IFS could become one of the most requested quality and food safety standards in the future—something quite important to evaluate when deciding on one rule or another. Nature of standards:Although the goals of the different GFSI schemes are the same, they use different means to achieve certification.
The basis of each audit is very similar, but the criteria they follow and their evaluation levels are different. For IFS, there is a rating and scoring system that BRC does not have. The differences between them lie in cultural issues. For example, according to Kassa, Silverman and Baroudi. (2010), BRC makes it possible to certify a supplier with significant dissatisfaction, provided that such supplier produces objective evidence that it has remedied such disagreement within 28 days. In contrast, IFS does not allow certification if there is any type of nonconformity (Crandall et al.
, 2017). Asimple suggestion would be to visit the websites of potential GFSI schemes acompany is considering. (Labs, 2014) suggest that information a firm shouldlook for on a scheme’s website includes a copy of the code for the type of GFSIaudit, guidance document(s) explaining what is required to comply with thecode, a listing of approved certi?cation bodies for the scheme, etc.
Potential certi?cation bodies:Correspondingly, companies shouldvisit the websites of potential Certi?cation Bodies (CB). That can help in con?rmingthat the certi?cation body is approved to conduct audits for their type ofoperation. Learn what services the certi?cation body offers, like consulting,pre-audits and audits (Crandall et al., 2012).
Most certi?cation bodies provideconsulting in numerous areas, aside from preparing for a GFSI audit. They willalso conduct pre-audits in which they visit and conduct an unof?cial pre-auditand provide audit results. Crandall et al. (2017) found that this allowscompanies to learn what specific de?ciencies are so they can correct them beforean of?cial audit. Jacxsen et al. (2015) state that combining a pre-audit withconsulting services not only permits the identification of specificdeficiencies, but it offers opportunities for advice on how to correct them aswell.
Of course, the certi?cation bodies do conduct of?cial audits for thescheme they represent. If possible, it is beneficial toselect a certi?cation body with which a firm already has a relationship (Labs,2014)— perhaps an organization that has conducted third-party GoodManufacturing or Food Safety Audits for the company. Certification Bodies tendto be very busy, so it is recommended to schedule certification audits well inadvance.
Also, Jacxsens etal. (2015) found that it is important to strategize when to schedule the ?rstof?cial audit because, most likely, it will determine the time each year thatthe firm will have the annual GFSI audit. Generally, a yearly GFSI audit iswithin a 60-day window of 30 days before to 30 days after the original auditdate (Crandall et al., 2017). Therefore, it is wise to discuss this with the CBbefore scheduling the ?rst of?cial certification audit.