GFSI - Where do I start? Guide

Where do I start?


What is GFSI?

Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is an industry-driven collaboration of retail, manufacturing, food service, academia, and service providers that was founded in 2000. Their mission is to provide continuous improvement in food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide.

How is a  GFSI certification audit different from other third-party audits I’m already receiving?

Chances are, you are already up to your eyeballs in audits and are not eager to add another one to your plate. However, more and more frequently customers and suppliers look for GFSI certification before they will do business with you. In these scenarios, GFSI certification becomes a way to get your foot in the door with these clients.

What sets GFSI certification audits apart from other third-party audits is that they have passed the benchmarking process that certification schemes (like BRC, FSSC, IFS, and SQF) must pass in order to gain GFSI recognition. In brief, GFSI has a benchmark document that outlines minimum food safety requirements. Whichever GFSI-approved certification scheme you select to be audited against has already been benchmarked.

Where do I get started? How do I know which certification is right for me?

GFSI’s motto is "Once certified, accepted everywhere." Consumer products companies and retailers are expected to accept any of the GFSI-benchmarked schemes your facility selects. All GFSI-benchmarked audits meet the same minimum requirements; however, each scheme-owner adds their own nuances to make their standards unique.

The audit format, score, rating, frequency, and corrective action timeline differ for each certification scheme. For example, all certification schemes cover food safety and legality in their scopes, but some also include requirements for product quality.

  • BRC tends to be very descriptive in their expectations and provide clear direction, which can be a good fit for companies that are new to certification audits.
  • FSSC may be a better fit for companies that want more flexibility in the contents of their Food Safety Management System. This flexibility works when an organization has the skills to document the scientific and legal justification for their approach.
  • SQF offers flexibility to start with food safety and legality and then add the quality level later.
  • IFS is a risk-based standard that provides documented justification, which allows for custom requirements by site.

What certification audits does AIB provide?

What does AIB offer me that other certification bodies (CBs) do not?

All certification bodies offer an unbiased assessment by an accredited independent technical expert, but there are a few ways that AIB stands out as a provider of certification services.

  1. We invest in consistency. We take extra efforts to calibrate our auditors. We invest in every single one of our certification auditors to make sure they received the upfront and ongoing training needed to cultivate knowledge and ability.
  2. We only do food certification. Most of our competitors also offer aerospace, maritime, and other certifications. AIB is 100% focused on the food industry.
  3. Our team has a reputation for excellence. Our CB team provides a timely response to requests related to quotes, scheduling, corrective actions, and other service inquiries.
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Certification is provided by AIB International Certification Services, a wholly owned subsidiary and separate company. Use of AIB International’s consulting and training services does not influence certification outcome.