The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recently announced the launch of the first live pilot of its benchmarking requirements for food safety auditor professional recognition bodies (PRB), following a successful consultation period.
Although a food safety auditor plays a vital part of ensuring that safe food is available for people around the world, the industry is facing mounting recruitment difficulties, with more auditors leaving the profession than new recruits joining it. This is putting a strain on the ability of certification bodies (CBs) to cater to the increasing demand in food safety audits—and presents a severe threat to the whole food safety ecosystem. The situation has worsened due to increasingly complex and duplicative requirements applying to new and existing auditors.
To combat this, GFSI, a Coalition of Action of The Consumer Goods Forum, has developed a new approach for the qualification of food safety auditors for GFSI-recognized certification programs, which offer to establish professional recognition bodies in the sector responsible for validating common competencies in a food safety auditor. The move, informed by an open consultation to gather input from a wide range of stakeholders, means that certification program owners (CPOs) and CBs can rely on this registration to a GFSI-recognized PRB as evidence of the competency of the auditor—eliminating the need for repeated auditor checks.
The new benchmarking requirements will be trialed through a pilot with Exemplar Global, who applied to become a GFSI-recognized PRB, and volunteering CPOs who will test the new model including FSSC 22000, BRC Global, and SQFI. The launch will be marked in a plenary session at the GFSI Conference taking place in Barcelona Mar. 29–31. The pilot will be followed by a review of key learnings before a full transition of the entire GFSI ecosystem to the new model in 2023 and 2024.
By harmonizing standards across the industry, GFSI hopes to safeguard a vital role within the industry—elevating the accessibility and perception of food safety auditing to be comparable with other well-respected auditing industries such as finance.
“The launch of this pilot marks a pivotal moment in the implementation of GFSI’s new benchmarking requirements for professional recognition bodies,” says Erica Sheward, director of GFSI. “We’re confident that it will help to recognize the vital role of food safety auditors and safeguard ongoing take-up of the profession for years to come. By mutualizing qualification efforts for auditors across the industry, we can make food safety auditing an accessible, attainable, and desirable profession for many more people—helping to protect the professional future of an essential component of the food safety ecosystem.”
“The world relies on a safe and secure food supply chain and GFSI has established a key role in delivering this,” says Andrew Baines, president and CEO of Exemplar Global. “Auditors of GFSI-recognized certification programs are on the front line in the protection of the supply chain. We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate at the GFSI Conference in Barcelona to ensure that auditors are the competent, well-skilled professionals that we need them to be.”
This work forms part of the larger GFSI Race to the Top (RTTT) Framework, which works to improve trust, transparency, and confidence in GFSI-recognized certification and audit outcomes.
GFSI is asking organizations interested in becoming a GFSI-recognized PRB to apply while the pilot is ongoing.