This blog post is the second of a series that will be published over the next few weeks. This series will allow you to get to know the 2018 GFSI Global Markets Awards winners from four countries across the globe (Mexico, Japan, Nigeria and Pakistan) and how their use of the GFSI Global Markets Programme helped them to improve their food safety management systems. The Awards, initiated and sponsored by greenfence, included travel and access to the Global Food Safety Conference 2018 and discovery tours in Tokyo, Japan.
This second contribution is by 2018 Mexican winner, Gabriel Barreda Ortega, of Asociaciones Agroindustriales Serranas S.A. de C.V.
The Global Markets Programme, building a pathway to certification, was created by GFSI seven years ago. It provides an unaccredited entry point for companies through a step-by-step Programme designed to build capacity within production and manufacturing operations. The Programme proposes ways for companies with less sophisticated food safety management systems to manage the challenges of food safety, while simultaneously reducing hazards in global food supply chains and improving market access through certification by one of the GFSI-recognised certification programme owners. The Programme toolkit is made up of self-assessments based on a checklist of GFSI requirements, a training and competency framework, as well as a protocol to guide the user throughout the Programme.
In addition to GFSI’s role as a recognised leader in the benchmarking of global food safety standards, the development of the Global Markets Programme has been hailed by industry stakeholders as one of GFSI’s premier contributions to improving food safety for consumers everywhere. Toolkits are available for primary production and manufacturing scopes and can be accessed in the GFSI library as free and open-source material in multiple languages.
On 29 May 2017, Nestle Mexico invited Asociaciones Agroindustriales Serranas S.A. de C.V.’s (Serranas) top management to participate in the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Global Markets Programme. Initially, our employees were sceptical about the issue of food safety. It was difficult to cover the basic level of the Programme and especially detect areas of improvement for the Programme’s intermediate level. However, after an adaptation period, the Serranas team demonstrated enthusiasm and commitment to adopt the Programme and implement it.
Having a self-assessment tool for the Global Markets Programme allowed us to design an internal management system for quality and food safety. In this continuous improvement process, along with the support of senior management, we achieved a work system which embedded the philosophy of food safety throughout the entire organisation. In addition, we experienced a connection between the quality and food safety internal management system and the sustainability area. This strengthened and helped to revalidate the licenses of sustainable certifications such as Rainforest Alliance and 4c, achieving a considerable reduction of costs and better results during respective audits.
In general, if you are responsible for quality assurance in your company, the size of your company or the number of employees does not matter. It is essential to adopt the issue of food safety and believe in the project for others to follow, starting with the top management or the owner of the business. It is also important to consider the issue of food safety outside of the work environment. This includes talks with your family about the importance of food safety and reminding other colleagues to do the same.
Overall, using the Global Markets Programme has helped us improve our quality controls by establishing better business process controls with company policies, guidelines, HACCP, personnel training, and manuals for our manufacturing operations team, chain of custody, human resources and all other areas involved in the business. It has also helped us gain better reputation with our clients, specifically with Nestle, related to our capacity of supplying and delivering safe and innocuous food products. Finally, it has helped us to build capacity that impacts the DNA of the company built on a food safety culture for our employees and other stakeholders, as well as for Mexico in serving as an example for other Mexican and foreign companies looking to implement similar efforts and initiatives.
Serranas is very proud to have received a Global Markets Award in 2018 for excellence in advancing food safety. Winning the award in Tokyo was fulfilling for the company’s shareholders, my professional development, the quality assurance team, and all other colleagues and collaborators. It was great to be recognised for the efforts I began spearheading more than 3 years ago regarding stricter quality controls on our production and manufacturing operations. Traveling to Tokyo gave me the opportunity to network with other industry professionals, service providers, and other companies similar in size and operational complexity from countries such as Pakistan, Nigeria and Japan. Sharing our experiences, vision, plans and doubts allowed for great feedback and served to bring back ideas that will allow Serranas to continue growing and improving.
Winning the award was a team effort. Everyone worked very hard to build capacities to comply with the assessment from the checklist included in the Global Markets Toolkit. For the quality team, it was great for them to see first-hand the results of their hard work and rigorous preparation for audits, the implementation of new controls and processes, as well as get recognition for this. Winning the award motivated the team and helped us build more robust capacities for Serranas as a whole. The findings, networks and benchmarks brought back from Japan will definitely help the team to improve continuously and work towards providing greater value for Serranas.
Through our Global Markets experience, we at Serranas increasingly closely observe the preparation, handling and storage of food to prevent diseases from spreading. Greater awareness for food safety allows for higher quality of products that are ultimately exported all around the world. Our goal for 2018 is to work with Nestlé to successfully complete a development programme higher than the Global Markets Programme’s intermediate level. Going forward, we strive to continue to work hard towards making Serranas a better company for our clients, suppliers, the communities where we work, the environment and, of course, our team.
This blog was written and contributed by:
Gabriel Barreda Ortega
Asociaciones Agroindustriales Serranas S.A. de C.V.