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Strengthening Public-Private Dialogue.
Forming Impactful Partnerships. Driving Safer Food for Consumers Everywhere.

In 2016, the Global Food Safety Initiative and national regulators established an annual Government-to-Business (G2B) Meeting, hosted by GFSI adjacent to the annual GFSI Conference.

 

The G2B Meeting provides a unique forum where the private sector, government food safety officials and international governmental organisations can engage in open discussions around food safety trends, opportunities and challenges. It focuses on the role of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the benchmarking of accredited third-party certification in the global context of food safety supply chains and international standards.

 

Each year, competent authorities for food safety and International Government Organisations (IGOs) respond to GFSI’s call for participation to form a G2B Organising Committee, which constructs a yearly work plan. See the members of this year’s G2B Organising Committee here.

 

Guided by the work plan and G2B mandate, the G2B Meetings provide an opportunity for regulators, IGOs and the private sector to explore and collaborate on issues and challenges associated with third-party certification within the regulatory context. This year, in collaboration with the GFSI Board, the Committee identified the following three work streams which will be discussed during the 2021 G2B meeting:

Context:

The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has been growing steadily in daily life, both at home and at work, and increasingly in auditing practices. ‘Remote’ audit practices are already common in some industries and emerging in others such as the food industry.

In June 2020, with the help of the GFSI Stakeholder Advisory Forum, GFSI introduced new Benchmarking Requirements providing a framework for the use of ICT by GFSI-recognised certification programme owners (CPOs). When publishing these amended Benchmarking Requirements, GFSI committed to regularly reviewing its position on this topic as new data and evidence becomes available on the efficacy of audits using such technologies.

In line with this commitment, GFSI has set up a Working Group of five academic experts to provide an independent review of the evidence regarding the use of ICT during food safety audits as a means of verifying compliance of the audited organisation and its food safety practices. The objectives of the Working Group of Academics are to:

  • Review evidence offered as to the efficacy of audits and inspections using ICT in guaranteeing a similar outcome to traditional onsite audits;
  • Clarify different types of usage of ICT i.e. replacement/enhancement of regimes based upon site visits;
  • Consider the criteria by which the use of ICT in food safety audits could be considered an effective alternative to onsite audits;
  • Focus their work on food safety audits and inspections, while allowing for some sourcing of data and evidence from other sectors where the use of ICT and remote audits/inspections is used.

 

G2B work stream on ICT and associated outcomes:

In that context and in coordination with GFSI’s Codex Committee and ICT Working Group, GFSI will work with the regulatory G2B community to summarise the discussions on:

  • mapping the food safety jurisdictions all over the world who are including the use of ICT in their policy or in their national food control systems and activities.
  • having an overview of good practices from the competent authorities on the use of ICT during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • having an overview of the industry practices on the use of ICT during Covid-19.
  • understanding the different types of usage of ICT in audits and inspections ICT Working Group and perhaps creating a mapping

Context:

The Global Markets Programme was created almost 10 years ago to provide an incremental pathway to GFSI-recognised certification for less sophisticated companies lacking food safety management systems and to help them reduce food hazards while facilitating market access. The programme, created as an open-source checklist available on the GFSI website, has been a victim of its own success and has faced many inappropriate applications since then (creation of Global Markets certificates in emerging markets, adaptation and interpretation of the programme by others, etc). At the same time, the programme has proven its relevance and its efficacy for several supply chains all over the world and has proven to be efficient for its initial purpose.

The lack of technical relevance to respond to today and tomorrow’s food safety capacity building challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets risks making the programme obsolete. Therefore, GFSI is engaging all of its stakeholders to renew its Global Markets Programme.

Context:

As our food network becomes more globalised and interconnected, we have seen increased expectations for greater transparency and integrity as consumers are more aware of issues related to food safety and traceability. There is a growing awareness that we are unable to build a safer and more efficient food supply chain without the support of local and national public partners. Utilising our collective resources, industry stakeholders and governments can work more effectively together to ensure that there are safeguards in place along the entire value chain, from farm to fork.

Data sharing and transparency have been at the centre of several discussions between regulators and GFSI at the global level and in some regions during the last 3 years based on the work of the Codex CCFICS on vTPA draft principles and guidelines for the assessment and use of voluntary third-party assurance programmes (vTPA).

Based on this work and strategic discussions with other stakeholders, GFSI decided to build an online platform to have a repository of GFSI certificates, a unique place where GFSI members could verify the certification status of their own site and supply chain whenever they require it. These solutions exist in other industries (e.g. telecommunication, aviation) and the IAF recently developed a platform delivering a similar outcome for the IAF and their members (https://www.iafcertsearch.org/). This project intends to respond to GFSI strategic outcomes on Harmonisation and Public-Private Partnerships to build more trust and confidence in the GFSI brand by providing a service and accurate data on certificates to our members and stakeholders involved in the GFSI ecosystem for safe food for consumers everywhere.

GFSI, as previously explained through its position on data sharing, will share through this platform the information found available within an accredited third-party audit certificate from a GFSI-recognised certification programme owner:

  • whether a site is GFSI-recognised or not, including the scope of certification, the certification programme, the grade if applicable, the date of audit, the dates of issue and expiration of the certification, the Certification Body, the Accreditation Body.
  • the context of the status of the certification (suspensions, withdrawn or change of CPO or any other kind of information related to the status of a certificate from a GFSI-recognised CPOs)
  • the information contained in the GFSI-recognised CPOs certificate: site ID, company ID, scope, etc.

 

G2B work stream on data sharing and associated outcomes:

  • The establishment of an online repository that will strengthen confidence by competent authorities in the accuracy and timeliness of certification status for those GFSI benchmarked vTPA programmes.
  • Increased use of vTPA certification within National Food Control Systems.
  • Have a data sharing handbook that provides guidance to competent authorities on how to use GFSI online repository published by September 2021.

Past G2B Meetings

  • 1st G2B Meeting, 28 February 2016, Berlin, Germany
  • 2nd G2B Meeting, 27 February 2017, Houston, USA
  • 3rd G2B Meeting, 5 March 2018, Tokyo, Japan
  • 4th G2B Meeting, 25 February 2019, Nice, France
  • 5th G2B Meeting, 25 February 2020, Seattle, USA
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