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2020 has brought many unexpected challenges – for the food and beverage industry and for us as individuals – that no one could have predicted. But we rallied, we stepped up and we re-envisioned. Despite all the change, people and organizations found their centers. We met disruptions with disruptive solutions.

NSF’s focus remained on its legacy and commitment to protect and improve global human health. As a food safety pioneer, NSF helped the food industry protect food safety and security across the global supply chain. We helped essential businesses such as farms, food manufacturers and retailers push ahead, as we moved forward together. Here are a few examples of steps we took:

Our consulting team developed a program to help businesses reopen and stay open. Checked by NSF™ allows organizations to demonstrate their commitment to continued workplace safety, verifying they have implemented appropriate measures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 among employees, visitors and guests.

A large part of our focus centered on our auditors’ support. NSF has always had a strong commitment to world-class, professional auditors. Leveraging our robust global calibration and training programs we quickly pivoted to include training on new ways of working and the use of virtual technology. We created our own auditor verification program involving specific training and client verification of our auditors’ use of appropriate PPE and other safety practices to prevent viral contamination of themselves and auditee’s employees.

While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly accelerated the use of remote food safety audits, NSF International has been at the forefront of adopting remote audits and technology for several years, with the first pilot completed in 2015. We introduced Glass[1] with NSF’s EyeSucceed software to allow auditees to livestream their point of view to a remote auditor. The auditor uses voice and text commands to walk the auditee through the evaluation step by step, just as if they were there in person. The ability to conduct both client and shadow audits this way remains highly advantageous post-pandemic to save time and auditor travel expenses.

In addition, EyeSucceed allows our clients’ employees to experience interactive, hands-free learning that enables them to complete tasks. They are immediately notified of any deviations, and all process outputs – like time between steps, specific types of deviations and the associated corrective actions – are uploaded to the cloud and used to develop process improvements.

The novel coronavirus has fundamentally changed the way the food industry thinks about its processes and procedures. But some things remained the same: As always, people were central to food safety, from frontline workers to business owners to scheme owners to auditors. And as before, maintaining and building on customer relationships is key for success moving forward into the post COVID-19 business environment.

With consumers staying closer to home and more aware of the foods they eat and where they come from, the spotlight is on food manufacturers and food safety now more than ever. Audits and certification provide visibility into a supplier’s food safety management system and allow audit specifiers to continue to measure, track and trend key performance indicators in their supply chain. Real-time monitoring is also key to the future of food and workplace safety, reducing labor costs and optimizing operations throughout the food industry.

I look forward to the future and the new and innovative solutions that are uncovered along the way. I invite you to join our Special Session at the GFSI Conference on 24th March:

NSF International Special Session

24th March, 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. CET

Measuring Auditor Performance to Meet Future Expectations

Kim Onett, Associate Director, Global Supplier Assurance, NSF International

Kim ties GFSI’s focus on benchmarking auditor training programs and continuing professional development pathways to certification bodies’ monitoring methods and measures for all technical roles involved in the certification audit delivery process. She also covers auditor development and the selection of performance metrics that drive consistency.


[1] Glass is a trademark of Google Inc.

This post was written and contributed by:

Suzanne Barkley

Managing Director, Global Certification Program

NSF International

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