Established at the turn of the millennium, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) has played a central role in improving the security of the world’s food supply. Over two decades later, the global food and beverage market has only become more interconnected, even as we face unprecedented disruption from military conflicts, economic issues, and climate change. Global compliance standards and food safety best practices are more vital than ever.

How is the GFSI working to protect the food supply, and what do manufacturers, distributors, and other industry players need to know? Read on to learn more about the organization and the role it plays for food and beverage businesses in 2023.

What Is GFSI?

GFSI is a non-profit trade group with a single mandate: improving food safety around the world. The organization was established in 2000 by a group of international retailers, food safety experts, and government representatives to unify and harmonize food safety standards and practices across both developed and emerging markets. While it's not a food safety standard in and of itself, GFSI as an organization serves as an all-encompassing oversight body that benchmarks and recognizes various food safety management standards around the world.

To this end, the GFSI provides a framework for manufacturers, retailers, regulators, and consumers to collaborate across borders to improve food safety, share knowledge, address issues, and develop globally recognized best practices. Ultimately, the GFSI helps build trust in the safety of the existing food supply and helps new stakeholders join the global market with fewer risks and challenges.

Why GFSI Matters in 2023

The GFSI has four areas of focus that have remained relatively unchanged since the organization's founding. As supply chains become increasingly interconnected and fragile, the GSFI's main functions have only become more important:

  • Harmonization of international food safety standards. As food and beverage manufacturing industries emerge in more markets across the globe, it’s important for manufacturers and distributors in these markets to quickly adopt science-based practices to minimize risk to public health. The food safety management schemes GFSI recognizes provide a framework for manufacturers in every market to work toward. At the same time, established food and beverage companies can look to GFSI for guidance on how to comply with standards and regulations in other countries.
  • Promoting global best practices. Built by insight from industry leaders from around the world, the GFSI promotes a set of best practices that bring the entire industry into alignment and serve as the gold standard for food safety. Frameworks like Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) have ushered in a new era of food safety.
  • Improving collaboration. The GFSI brings together stakeholders from across the food industry, including manufacturers, retailers, regulators, and consumers, to regularly share knowledge, address international issues and compliance issues, and evolve best practices through dialogue.
  • Protecting consumer health. With so much importing and exporting in the new food supply chain, the GFSI’s framework for international food safety collaboration helps ensure all stakeholders are in alignment and doing their part to uphold global standards. Consumers are safer from foodborne illnesses and contaminants and able to buy with more confidence, providing a lift to economies around the world. At the end of 2022, GFSI also made significant changes to its governance model and rules of procedure, including mechanisms for holding stakeholders accountable within the framework of the organization.

GFSI-recognized food safety programs remain the gold standard for manufacturers, distributors, and other businesses in the food industry around the world. With so much disruption and upheaval, it’s more important than ever to understand regulations and how they apply to your facilities. How can you ensure correct understanding and compliance? Learn more about AIB International’s GFSI training here.

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