The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), a coalition of The Consumer Goods Forum, (CGF) on Nov. 4 launched the first-ever set of benchmarking requirements for food safety auditor professional recognition bodies.

By raising the profile of the profession of auditing, and focusing entry requirements on competence, the aim is to attract and retain food safety auditors.

Over the years, according to a statement from GFSI, the industry has faced mounting difficulties in recruiting and retaining auditors, with more people leaving the profession than new recruits joining it. This is putting a strain on the certification bodies’ ability to cater to the increasing demand in food safety audits — and presents a severe threat to the whole food safety ecosystem. GFSI officials say the situation has worsened because of increasingly complex and duplicated requirements applying to new and existing auditors, including the increasing GFSI benchmarking requirements for certification program owners on auditors.

To combat this, GFSI has now developed a new recognition program for professional recognition bodies in the sector, setting them up as responsible for validating common competencies in a food safety auditor for all GFSI-recognized certification program owners. The move, informed by an open consultation to gather input from a wide range of stakeholders, also means that the food industry can rely on this registration and validation to verify the competency of the auditor.

By harmonizing standards across the industry, GFSI hopes to safeguard a vital role within the industry — elevating the accessibility and perception of food safety auditing to be comparable with other well-respected auditing industries such as finance.

“We’re confident that the launch of these benchmarking requirements will help to protect the vital role of food auditors and to increase the take-up of this profession, said GFSI Director Erica Sheward. The current qualifications and industry experience required for a food safety auditing career are stringent and specific – which narrows the field of potential recruits dramatically.

“By harmonizing training and professional development across the industry, we can make food safety auditing an accessible, attainable, and desirable profession for many more people – helping to safeguard the future of an essential component of the food safety ecosystem,” she added.

 Andrew Baines, President, and CEO of Exemplar Global said: Exemplar Global has been certifying auditors for over 30 years including many food safety auditors around the world who audit GFSI benchmarked schemes. Exemplar Global is pleased to confirm that it is our intention to seek GFSI approval as a PRB (Professional Recognition Body) and to assist GFSI as they work through public consultations, a pilot program, and transition arrangements.”

About the Global Food Safety Initiative

  • The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI; the Coalition) is a CEO-led Coalition of Action from The Consumer Goods Forum, bringing together retailers and manufacturers and an extended food safety community to help oversee food safety standards for businesses and help provide access to safe food for people everywhere.
  • As one of the world’s largest networks to help achieve safe food, GFSI is committed to making food safety everyone’s business and the Coalition members are addressing challenges facing food safety systems in their supply chains and the markets they operate in and are helping to raise the food safety bar globally.

About The Consumer Goods Forum

  • The Consumer Goods Forum (“CGF”) is a global, parity-based industry network that is driven by its members to encourage the global adoption of practices and standards that serves the consumer goods industry worldwide.
  • It brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries, and it reflects the diversity of the industry in geography, size, product category, and format.

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