Frequently Asked Questions

Who is GFSI?

The Global Food Safety Initiative is an industry-driven global collaboration to advance food safety. GFSI acknowledges recognition of food safety certification programmes to defined requirements using its Benchmarking Requirements. GFSI is managed by The Consumer Goods Forum of which your company can become a member.

WHAT IS GFSI CERTIFICATION?

This term is slightly misleading as GFSI does not provide certification services, but you can achieve certification to a GFSI-recognised Certification Programme through a successful third-party audit against any of the certification programmes that have been recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative.

A food safety certification programme is ‘recognised’ by GFSI when it meets internationally recognised food safety requirements, developed by a multi-stakeholders group, which are set out in the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements.

Benchmarked standards include:

PrimusGFS Standard

IFS PACsecure

Global Aquaculture Alliance Seafood BAP Seafood Processing Standard

GLOBALG.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance Scheme, Produce Safety Standard and Harmonized Produce Safety Standard

Global Red Meat Standard (GRMS) 4th Edition

FSSC 22000

CanadaGAP Scheme

SQF CODE 8TH EDITION

BRC GLOBAL STANDARD FOR FOOD SAFETY ISSUE 8

IFS Food Standard Version 6

BRC Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials Issue 5

IFS Logistics

WHO ARE BRC?

The British Retail Consortium are known as BRC. In 1998 BRC developed the BRC Food Technical Standard to be used to evaluate manufacturers of retailers and own brand food products. It was designed to be used as a ‘due diligence’ defence for retailers and brand owners. This Standard is regarded as the benchmark for best practice in the food industry.

Its use outside the UK has seen it evolve into a Global Standard as a framework upon which many companies have based their supplier assessment programmes and manufacture of some branded products.

The majority of UK, and many European and Global retailers, and brand owners will only consider business with suppliers who have gained certification to the appropriate BRC Global Food Standard. In 2016 BRC Global Standards were taken over by LGC’s Standards Division.

WHAT IS BRC CERTIFICATION?

There are a family of standards referred to as BRC Global Standards and BRC certification is certified compliance with one of these standards. BRC Global Standards are used by over 25,000 certificated suppliers in over 130 countries worldwide. The standards prescribe quality, safety and operational criteria to ensure that manufacturers fulfil their legal obligations and provide protection for the end consumer.

The following standards are available:

 

BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8

First published in 1998, the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety was the first GFSI benchmarked standard and is one of the leading food safety certification standards.

 

BRC Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials Issue 6

The BRC Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials was the first Packaging Standard in the world to be recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GSFI) benchmarking committee.

 

BRC Global Standard for Storage and Distribution Issue 3

First published in 2006, the BRC Global Standard for Storage and Distribution is also a GFSI benchmarked standard. The latest edition Issue 3 was published in August 2016.

 

BRC Global Standard for Agents and Brokers

The BRC Global Standard for Agents and Brokers provides a framework for managing product safety, quality and legality for agent and broker businesses in the food and packaging industries.

 

Retail

The BRC Global Standard for Retail was published in 2016 and provides a certification standard for organisations that retail food products.

WHAT IS BRC GLOBAL STANDARD FOR FOOD SAFETY?

The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety has been developed to specify the safety, quality and operational standards required within a food manufacturing organisation in order to meet legal requirements and fulfil obligations to the consumer. The latest BRC Global Standard for Food Safety is Issue 8 2018, Issue 8 of the Standard is divided into nine sections:

  1. SENIOR MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT

Commitment at a senior level is essential in the development of a good food safety culture and is therefore necessary for any food safety system to be effective and to ensure the full application and continual development of these systems.

  1. THE FOOD SAFETY PLAN – HACCP

Effective hazard and risk analysis enables the company to identify and manage those hazards that may pose a risk to the safety, quality and integrity of their products. The Standard requires the development of an effective hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) programme based on the requirements of the internationally recognised Codex Alimentarius system.

  1. FOOD SAFETY AND QUALITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

This section ensures the company works to well-documented, systematic management systems that form the basis for the product and process controls necessary to produce safe products, meet customer expectations and ensure staff are trained.

  1. SITE STANDARDS

This covers the suitability, cleanliness and control of the site and includes topics such as factory conditions, cleaning, equipment, pest control, foreign body controls and food defence/site security.

  1. PRODUCT CONTROL

Establishing product controls such as allergen management, the prevention of food fraud and product testing are important in the reliable delivery of safe, authentic products.

  1. PROCESS CONTROL

These requirements ensure that the documented HACCP plan is put into operation on a daily basis, together with effective procedures to consistently manufacture the product to the correct quality.

  1. PERSONNEL

Training, protective clothing and hygiene practices are covered in this section.

  1. HIGH-RISK, HIGH-CARE AND AMBIENT HIGH-CARE PRODUCTION RISK ZONES

A specific section of the Standard dealing with products that are susceptible to potential pathogen contamination and therefore need additional controls to ensure product safety.

  1. REQUIREMENTS FOR TRADED PRODUCTS

A voluntary additional section of the Standard for sites that purchase and sell food products that would normally fall within the scope of the Standard and are stored at the site’s facilities, but which are not manufactured, further processed or packed at the site being audited.

Further information is available at https://www.brcgs.com/brcgs/food-safety/

WHAT IS SQF CERTIFICATION?

The SQF Codes are published by the Safe Quality Food Institute which is administered by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). The SQF CODE is a GFSI benchmarked standard.

SQF certification is certification to one of the range of SQF Codes that the SQFI publish, the current codes edition 8.1 were published in July 2019, are expected to undergo GFSI benchmarking and include:

SQF Food Safety Code for Primary Production

SQF Food Safety Code for Food Retail

SQF Food Safety Code for Manufacturing

SQF Food Safety Code for the Manufacture of Food Packaging

SQF Food Safety Code for Storage and Distribution

There is also and SQF Quality Code for those that wish to add quality to food safety certification.

WHAT IS ISO 22000?

This is international standard ISO 22000 Food Safety Management Systems – ‘Requirements for any organization in the food chain’. The second edition was published 2018-6

Sections in the standard include requirements for

4 Context of the organization

5 Leadership

6 Planning

7 Support

8 Operation including requirement 8.5.4 to develop a Hazard control plan (HACCP/OPRP Plan)

9 Performance evaluation

10 Improvement

WHAT IS FSSC 22000 CERTIFICATION?

The FSSC 22000 Food Safety System Certification provides a framework for effectively managing your organization’s food safety responsibilities. FSSC 22000 is fully recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and is based on existing ISO Standards. It demonstrates your company has a robust Food Safety Management System in place that meets the requirements of your customers and consumers. Already, 15.000+ organizations over 140 countries achieved FSSC 22000 certification.

FSSC 22000 Certification Scheme for food and feed safety management systems, is based on ISO 22000 Food Safety Management Systems – ‘Requirements for any organization in the food chain’, technical specifications for sector PRPs (For example TS/ISO 22002-1 Prerequisite programmes on food safety — Part 1: Food manufacturing) and additional FSSCC Scheme requirements.

 

About TS/ISO 22002-1 Prerequisite programmes on food safety — Part 1: Food manufacturing

This Technical Specification specifies detailed requirements to be specifically considered in relation to ISO 22000:

  1. construction and layout of buildings and associated utilities;
  2. layout of premises, including workspace and employee facilities;
  3. supplies of air, water, energy and other utilities;
  4. supporting services, including waste and sewage disposal;
  5. suitability of equipment and its accessibility for cleaning, maintenance and preventive maintenance;
  6. management of purchased materials;
  7. measures for the prevention of cross-contamination;
  8. cleaning and sanitizing;
  9. pest control;
  10. personnel hygiene.

In addition, this Technical Specification ISO 22002-1 adds other aspects which are considered relevant to manufacturing operations:

1) rework;

2) product recall procedures;

3) warehousing;

4) product information and consumer awareness;

5) food defense, biovigilance and bioterrorism.

 

FSSC Certification Scheme Version 5 Additional requirements:

To ensure adequate control of food safety, specific additional FSSC requirements for the food safety management system are included in the Scheme.  The additional Scheme requirements are:

 

2.5.1 MANAGEMENT OF SERVICES

In addition to CLAUSE 7.1.6 OF ISO 22000:2018, the organization shall ensure that in case external laboratory analysis services are used for the verification and/or validation of food safety, these shall be conducted by a competent laboratory that has the capability to produce precise and repeatable test results using validated test methods and best practices (e.g. successful participation in proficiency testing programs, regulatory approved programs or accreditation to international standards such as ISO 17025).

 

2.5.2 PRODUCT LABELLING

In addition to CLAUSE 8.5.1.3 OF ISO 22000:2018, the organization shall ensure that finished products are labelled according to all applicable food safety (including allergens) statutory and regulatory requirements in the country of intended sale.

 

2.5.3 FOOD DEFENSE

2.5.3.1 THREAT ASSESSMENT

The organization shall have a documented procedure in place to:

  1. Conduct a threat assessment to identify and assess potential threats;
  2. Develop and implement mitigation measures for significant threats.

2.5.3.2 PLAN

  1. The organization shall have a documented food defense plan specifying the mitigation measures covering the processes and products within the FSMS scope of the organization.
  2. The food defense plan shall be supported by the organization’s FSMS.
  3. The plan shall comply with applicable legislation and be kept up-to-date.

 

2.5.4 FOOD FRAUD MITIGATION

2.5.4.1 VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT

The organization shall have a documented procedure in place to:

  1. Conduct a food fraud vulnerability assessment to identify and assess potential vulnerabilities;
  2. Develop and implement mitigation measures for significant vulnerabilities.

2.5.4.2 PLAN

  1. The organization shall have a documented food fraud mitigation plan specifying the mitigation measures covering the processes and products within the FSMS scope of the organization.
  2. The food fraud mitigation plan shall be supported by the organization’s FSMS.
  3. The plan shall comply with the applicable legislation and be kept up-to-date.

 

2.5.5 LOGO USE

 

2.5.6 MANAGEMENT OF ALLERGENS (FOOD CHAIN CATEGORIES C, E, FI, G, I & K)

The organization shall have a documented allergen management plan that includes:

  1. Risk assessment covering all potential sources of allergen cross-contamination and;
  2. Control measures to reduce or eliminate the risk of cross-contamination.

 

2.5.7 ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING (FOOD CHAIN CATEGORIES C, I & K)

The organization shall have in place:

  1. Risk-based environmental monitoring program;
  2. Documented procedure for the evaluation of the effectiveness of all controls on preventing contamination from the manufacturing environment and this shall include, at a minimum, the evaluation of microbiological and allergen controls present;
  3. Data of the monitoring activities including regular trend analysis.

 

2.5.8 FORMULATION OF PRODUCTS (FOOD CHAIN CATEGORY D) ANIMAL FEED PRODUCTION

The organization shall have in place procedures to manage the use of ingredients that contain nutrients that can have adverse animal health impact.

 

2.5.9 TRANSPORT AND DELIVERY (FOOD CHAIN CATEGORY FI) RETAIL AND WHOLESALE

The organization shall ensure that product is transported and delivered under conditions which minimize the potential for contamination.

WHAT IS IFS CERTIFICATION?

The IFS Standards currently comprise eight standards, which help users when implementing legal provisions regarding food and/or product safety, and quality issues. An IFS certification shows that the certified company has established system suitable for ensuring food and/or product safety, and that it has considered and implemented customer specifications. Certification is open to food manufacturers, brokers, logistics providers, manufacturers of household and hygiene products as well as wholesalers and retailers.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GFSI AND BRC?

GFSI acknowledges recognition of food safety certification programmes to defined requirements using its Benchmarking Requirements. GFSI do not offer certification.

BRC publish a family of standards referred to as BRC Global Standards and organisations can be certified as being compliant with one of these standards.

IS HACCP GFSI APPROVED?

HACCP is an acronym for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System and Guidelines for its Application are prescribed in Annex to CAC/RCP 1-1969 (Rev. 4 – 2003) Recommended International Code of Practice General Principles of Food Hygiene which contains preliminary steps to Hazard Analysis and the 7 HACCP Principles.

HACCP is not ‘approved’ by GFSI but in third part of the Global Food Safety Initiative GFSI Guidance Document (Current version Seventh Edition Version 7.1) specifies the requirements for the recognition of food safety schemes including the requirements for HACCP or HACCP based requirements to be in place in the scheme’s standard.

For example for GFSI Guidance Document for PROCESSING OF ANIMAL AND PLANT PERISHABLE PRODUCTS (MIXED PRODUCTS) specifies the following HACCP requirements:

The standard shall require that the organisation has in place a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system (HACCP) to identify and control all food safety hazards including allergens, to demonstrate food safety management.

The standard shall require that the HACCP system shall be systematic, comprehensive and thorough and shall be based on the Codex Alimentarius HACCP principles.

The standard shall require that the HACCP system shall be capable of accommodating change, such as advances in equipment design, processing procedures or technological developments.

The standard shall require that the scope of the HACCP system shall be required to be defined per product / product category and per process line / process-location.

IS ISO 22000 GFSI APPROVED?

ISO 22000 would not meet the GFSI benchmark requirements and so is not GFSI ‘approved’. It is however part of the FSSC 22000 Certification scheme which has met GFSI Benchmark requirements.

WHO OR WHAT IS ISO?

ISO is from the Greek word ISOS meaning “equal”

ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) is the world’s largest developer and publisher of International Standards. ISO is a network of 156 national standards bodies, based in Geneva, Switzerland. ISO is a non-governmental organisation that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. Many of its member institutes are part of the governmental structure of their countries, or are mandated by their government, other members have their roots uniquely in the private sector, having been set up by industry associations.

DO I NEED A CONSULTANT?

You can receive advice from independent consultants on how to implement your quality management system but this can be expensive and will need to be managed. Our advice is the more organising and management of the system you do yourself the more understanding and control you will have over the system. You can do it yourself using our Manual packs which are offered with or without additional support and provide a good starting point for your business.

HOW DO I CHOOSE A CERTIFICATION BODY?

Do your research and find out:

Are they authorized to issue certificates in your industry? How many have they issued?

Ask about:

The initial assessment process.

The certification audit process.

How they carry out surveillance audits.

If they provide qualified auditors with knowledge of your industry.

What are their fees and timescales.

CAN YOU GUARANTEE THAT WE WILL ACHIEVE CERTIFICATION WITH YOUR MANUALS?

We can assure you that the manual templates have been certified successfully many hundreds of times, however, you will need to assess if you have all the required systems in place and if any other documents are deemed necessary to establish process control. Don’t worry though, we provide support until you achieve certification.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET CERTIFIED?

It depends on you and your company. The minimum period is 3 months because after implementing your procedures, records and any necessary work instructions you will need to ensure that training is carried out and then all areas of your system are audited. Corrective Actions or Preventative Actions raised from these audits need to be followed up and at least some closed out to demonstrate the system is working. You will also need to review for improvement. With support from senior management and commitment from all staff you may be able to get certified in as short a period as 3 months. Larger companies tend to be more complicated and thus take more time and resource to get the system up and running.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET CERTIFIED?

Organizations that implement our systems without the help of expensive consultants may be able to get certified for as little as around $2,000 depending on your location.

HOW DO WE PREPARE FOR AN AUDIT?

Start with our Gap Analysis tool and identify any shortfalls in your system.

HOW CAN I PURCHASE YOUR MANUALS, AND HOW WILL I RECEIVE THEM?

All our products are available for immediate download. Select the product you want the click to buy and you will be taken to a secure PayPal payment page. Once you have paid you will automatically receive an email with download instructions. For assisted packages, we will provide a support e-mail address for correspondence.

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