Since I joined the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) in 2017, it has been clear to me that significant value could be unlocked by building a stronger relationship between GFSI and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). The IAF works with all industries – from aerospace to automotive, food to Information and Communication Technologies.
Thanks to the membership status of GFSI parent organisation The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) with the IAF, I am able to actively participate to and influence the IAF work on assuring that accredited certificates may be relied upon. I was also honoured to conclude the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between the IAF and GFSI which has been in the making for several years. I have to say, I felt very welcomed throughout. The IAF is very excited to be working with GFSI and with the food industry; opportunities keep arising for our two organisations to collaborate.
One such opportunity has been the World Accreditation Day (#WAD2020), which GFSI is delighted to support again this year. This world day is an opportune moment to raise awareness around the key role accreditation plays in ensuring safe food for consumers everywhere.
As our world faces unprecedented threats due to COVID-19, we at GFSI have been working tirelessly to support the safety of consumers and the integrity of supply chains globally, which is more crucial – and more challenging – now than ever before. With that said, the timing couldn’t be better for the IAF to focus attention for the 2020 edition around the theme “Accreditation: Improving Food Safety”.
This theme is also a perfect springboard to GFSI ambitious plan of modernisation identified in February 2020 by the GFSI board of members named the “Race To The Top” and intended to address the specific challenges GFSI has been facing in relation to trust and confidence in GFSI certification. In delivering this plan, the IAF-GFSI partnership plays a crucial role, and the IAF WG Food has already committed to actively support GFSI through the Task Force established by the Technical Committee in October 2019 to support this collaboration.
As part of the GFSI Experts Series, I had the chance to sit down with Marcus Long, IIOC president and member of the IAF executive committee, and Skip Greenaway, co-convenor of the IAF Food group until May 2020, to discuss the importance of accreditation, the value of the IAF-GFSI partnership and our hopes for the World Accreditation Day.
Marcus Long explained the objectives behind the 2020 theme, saying “World Accreditation Day is two days after the second-ever UN World Food Safety Day, so it gives us an excellent opportunity, a real double whammy of publicity about how our system — the GFSI system, certification, accreditation — can help drive better food safety around the world. It’s a great opportunity for us to really push that message to regulators, to governments, to business and to consumers as well, and say, look, there is a strong, robust system here. What we’re now looking to do is take those themes and drive them into the work we’re doing. … It’s really exciting, this level of dynamism going on at the moment, and this spirit of people wanting to bring their expertise together to work positively to make things better.”
Skip Greenaway then looked at why accreditation is so critical: “I think one of the key pieces that we need to make sure to remind everybody is the word “accreditation”. In my opinion, the power of GFSI is in recognising the fact that accreditation is critical to not only their product and what they’re trying to do, but it’s also critical to IAF. … Accreditation is behind all of the activities around the world, whether we’re talking about food, whether we’re talking about aerospace, whether we’re talking about automotive, whether we’re talking about social responsibility. Behind it is the word accreditation. It gives the strength and the power of an independent oversight that, quite frankly, is helping all of us do the right thing. To me, food safety is not a competitive situation. It’s absolutely something that all of us, no matter who we are and who we compete with, are all in this together, because we all have to be committed to take the world to a safer place.”
I also took this opportunity to ask them about the current status of the IAF-GFSI partnership. “I wanted to have your reflection on how you feel this has gone through the last years.”
Marcus said “I think, according to some of the discussions that have gone on this week between the accreditation community, the certification community and the GFSI board, we’ve got this huge level of willingness to make a significant change, a real recognition of the partnerships that we have and a recognition of the fact that we’ve all got some values and strengths to put in to make it better and deliver safer food. There’s a real sense of optimism about wanting to take this forward, do more and do better things to deliver safer food.”
On behalf of GFSI, I encourage you to participate in World Accreditation Day today in any way you can, to support this work and show how you harness it while playing your part in keeping food safe. Details of the campaign and useful resources can be found on the IAF website. We’ll keep an eye out for your messages on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, with the hashtags #WAD2020 and #GFSI.
This blog was written and contributed by:
Senior Technical Manager
Global Food Safety Initiative
Consumer Goods Forum