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The relationship between GFSI and the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the body responsible for developing and implementing the joint WHO/FAO food standards programme, is close and long-standing. The GFSI Benchmarking Requirements are based in part on Codex standards, and Codex leaders frequently appear on the GFSI Conference speaker list.

At the 2020 conference, one such leader was Hilde Kruse, senior officer of the Codex Secretariat. Hilde shared the science-based process that underpins Codex standards at a breakout session titled “Setting Expectations: How to Develop Food Safety Specifications.” Soon afterward, she sat down with Erica Sheward, director of GFSI, to discuss World Food Safety Day and other opportunities for collaboration between the two organisations.

Watch their conversation on today’s episode of the GFSI Experts Series, or read the transcript below. And get ready to engage with GFSI on World Food Safety Day! See what we’re planning below.

Erica Sheward: Let’s have a talk about World Food Safety Day.

Hilde Kruse: With pleasure. So happy to be here to talk about World Food Safety Day, which we celebrated for the first time in 2019. It was a great success. Following up on that success, in 2020, we will also use the opportunity to highlight that everyone has a role to play in regard to food safety, and that food safety is everyone’s business. It’s an opportunity to generate awareness and to urge action, and to show that everyone has a role to play along the whole food chain from farm to fork. We invite everyone to get involved and to work together to show how important food safety is, and how everyone has a role to play. We want to celebrate together … For instance, you can encourage the school system to take a role in this, the supermarkets, restaurants, food production businesses, the authorities, by having quizzes, competitions or videos. It’s up to our imagination and creativity to do activities in order to raise awareness and then show that everyone has a role to play, and that it concerns everybody.

Erica: It seems like a really good opportunity for us to get together to collaborate on how we can leverage our networks and our industry contacts for World Food Safety Day. It seems also like a great opportunity for us to showcase some of the things that we’re going to be doing around the development and trust and confidence around GFSI, and what we’ve termed the Race to the Top.

Hilde: Indeed, it is. It’s a win-win opportunity. We look forward to working together with you in order to show the importance of food safety and how everyone has a role to play. Let’s celebrate together.

Erica: The other thing I think that would be worth reflecting on, perhaps, is the role that Codex plays in supporting our thinking around the development of our Benchmarking Requirements. I think Version 2020, which we launched yesterday, is a great example of how we take the Codex requirements and embed them and use them for a basis for everything that we put in the benchmark. The role of Codex in everything that we do is so important, and I think it helps to bring trust and confidence that the benchmark is actually what it is that we want it to be, which is the highest standard for food safety that we can deliver.

Hilde: Thanks a lot. Trust is essential, and the Codex standards are science-based. They are based on good evidence, and it’s a consensus-building process. These are science-based standards based upon transparency, inclusiveness and excellency, but they also have to be implemented. It’s not about just having the standards, but they need to be implemented in real life. So it’s great that you also do this job to show how important they are also for your businesses, to be successful and to build trust.

Erica: We heard from Steve Wearne this morning … a really good presentation around thinking about how GFSI certification can be used for regulators (in) policy-making, to help them take risk-based approaches, and Codex is obviously front and center of that as well. So in terms of work around public-private partnerships, it’s really critical that we make that connection between Codex and what it is that we’re delivering through the Benchmarking Requirements.

Hilde: Very much so.

Just one month remains until World Food Safety Day!

Get ready to participate in this year’s World Food Safety Day campaign and plan to tweet us at @myGFSI with the role you play in keeping food safe. Be sure to include #GFSI and #WorldFoodSafetyDay hashtags. Here’s what we have planned for World Food Safety Day: 5 days, 5 videos, 5 calls to action!  In the week leading up to 7th June, GFSI will post a brief video every day, each addressing one of  the 5  calls to action. On the 7th, we’ll share our mashup of the full week. We invite you to engage with us throughout the GFSI campaign for World Food Safety Day (all week, actually) on our Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and subscribe to GFSI News to make sure you do not miss an episode!

To learn more about GFSI’s work with Codex, check out this one-pager on how we collaborate and what we achieved in the last year.

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