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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Global Food Safety and Quality Assurance Schemes

Recently, the food industry has witnessed the release of new 7th versions by GFSI-benchmarked schemes like SQF and BRC. Did you also know that GFSI Technical Working Groups are currently “reviewing the GFSI Guidance Document 6th Edition to identify areas for elaboration in the 7th Edition, to be released in 2015/16”? 

A Small Test:
When the food safety and quality auditing sector says it is taking auditing requirements to a new level, what is the most likely new level that the industry sees?
      (a)   A new level with more paperwork than the level prior?
(b)   A new level of effectiveness that sees products being actually and measurably safer and of higher quality than the level prior?
            (c) Both (a) and (b)?

Now Evaluate you scheme using the Grading Scale

In addition to clear reactions to recent food fraud events, it appears that some GFSI folks are beginning to pay attention to at least some of the GCSE-Food and Health Protection SSQA Proposals. Take for example these subjects on which the Scheme Management Sub Working Group has been charged to direct its focus:

“. . .  Integrity programs - to decide upon the development of a ‘measurable end result’ approach to allow for effective benchmarking;
Key Elements - to decide if the GFSI benchmarking criteria can be reduced in size and eliminate redundancy;”

I am eager to see what measurable end results are identified. I am also very interested in seeing how redundancy will be eliminated and what sort of things will be cut out.
Great steps but still missing some key considerations:
1. The question of unnecessary distrust-driven and time-wasting unannounced”audits is yet to be addressed as proposed under the GCSE-Food and Health Protection SSQA concept – which is to abandon the idea of unannounced audits and do something more trust-building and effective. 

2. Nothing is said of the misapplied notion of avoiding conflict of interest.

3. The issue of the ever-mounting paperwork burden has also not been addressed. The older versions of "standards" (schemes, as I prefer to describe these) already place a heavy burden of paperwork on subscribers. The newer version 7s and even future versions come with a universal guarantee - more paperwork burden. None has taken the same approach as the Paperwork Reduction MUD Scale strategy that includes practical guidance and tool for reducing the paperwork burden on companies and system managers.  

Feel free to share any thoughts that come to mind about the emerging requirements such as the new fraud tracking, supplier traceability requirements, etc. in the version 7s.  

GFSI Information Reference:

MyGFSI. (2014, September 07). Guidance Document TWG Progress | Sept 2014. Retrieved from

GCSE-Food and Health Protection Blog Post References:

Amiri, F. (2014, February 27). Common Assumptions about Food Safety and Quality Management:. [GCSE-Food and Health Protection blog post]. Retrieved from

GCSE-Food and Health Protection. (2012, November 17). What a value-added audit system is, has or does. Retrieved from

Amiri, F. (2013, October 29). Unannounced Audits and the Issue of Distrust. [GCSE-Food and Health Protection blog post]. Retrieved from
Posted By Felix Amiri

Felix Amiri is the current Food Sector Chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection

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