Updates from the GFSI Technical Meetings, London

LRQA Food blog from Cor Groenveld and Vel Pillay

Cor Groenveld

Today is the first day of the Global Food Safety Initiative Conference. It’s the Food Safety Conference they organise every year. It’s the tenth time they have done it and this year it is in London. I have spent the last two days in meetings of the GFSI technical committees. One of the most important topics that we have been discussing is the extension of the GFSI scope. Traditionally GFSI only covered food products but now they also are extending their scope into packaging materials and animal feed. There are already two working groups initiated by the industry. Those groups are developing two public available specifications, (PAS documents) one describing the prerequisite programs for packaging materials and the other one for animal feed. This is a big step forward, as it will make ISO 22000 available for more parts of the food supply chain. I think this is only the start, with PAS documents eventually being available for all the categories throughout the food supply chain.

Vel Pillay

I’m here in London attending the GFSI Conference. Today is day one of the conference. I have been here for the last two days attending technical meetings, which is very important for the GFSI Global Initiative. The technical meeting is where the issues of a global marketplace are being discussed. What we have realised is that GFSI has benchmarked twelve schemes and those twelve schemes are being implemented. However, there’s a need for emerging markets that is not being addressed. Therefore, one of the objectives of the technical committee was to develop our emerging market basic audit scheme program, specifically designed for suppliers that cannot actually perform the twelve approved GFSI schemes.

Cor Groenveld

Today at the conference there is the GFSI Stakeholder Meeting. It is the meeting where all stakeholders of the food supply chain are able to give input to GFSI, and GFSI uses that to improve their programs and to set future objectives. Catherine Francois, Director of the Global Food Safety Initiative Food Safety Programmes, said this morning that one of the key issues is auditor competence. And we at LRQA agree with that. When you look at the audit process one of the key elements is the integrity of the audit and therefore the competence of the auditor. I strongly believe that we have to work together, the different schemes have to work together, and certification bodies like us, we have to take responsibility to ensure that we have the right qualification process for auditors. LRQA is doing that, if you look at auditor competence, we are training our people at least for three months before they go into the audit and we make are committed to making sure that our assessors are up to date with the latest training and development programmes. Further training is built into their job, including in-house and external training on the latest schemes and standards.

Vel Pillay

One other area that all of the Certification Bodies have realised is that there is inconsistency in the audit process. At LRQA, at this moment in time we are actually conducting a lot of online training events for our assessors to ensure consistency in the process.

Remember....

We are both at the event in London (16th February - 18th February) which is one of the biggest global food safety conferences. 

You can find out more about LRQA's food month activities at www.food.lrqa.com

Read the previous blog and listen to the 'food month' podcasts