Understanding Certifications for Your Ingredient Supplier: GFSI
If you’re in charge of ingredient procurement for your company, it can be challenging to identify which certifications you want (and need) your food suppliers to have.
With so many certification logos and acronyms out there today, how can you tell which are the most important to look for? At Seawind Foods, we’re well-versed in protocols for food safety and quality, and we’re here to help you navigate the world of supplier certifications.
Today we’re going to explain a valuable food safety standard that is worth seeking in your supplier base: the Global Food Safety Initiative, or GFSI. Read on to understand what’s involved in GFSI certification, and why Seawind Foods is committed to working with GFSI certified processors.
GFSI: A Stamp of Approval Worth Paying For
As a non-profit foundation that aims to ensure safe food for consumers everywhere, GFSI drives continuous improvement in food safety standards around the world. GFSI also harmonizes those standards, combining them to offer a global scheme for food safety that can be adopted by anyone — a strategy that reduces audit duplication throughout the supply chain.
As a result, once a company is GFSI certified, they have a certification that is recognized everywhere. GFSI certification is essentially a food safety passport throughout the global marketplace. This makes it a compelling stamp of approval for any business.
While GFSI is not a certification program in itself, many programs adopt the standards of this organization. GFSI certification simply refers to being compliant with a certification program recognized by the GFSI.
How a Business Becomes GFSI Certified
In order to become certified under a GFSI-recognized program, a supplier first needs to identify the scope of their activities. Are they farming animals or plants? Are they processing perishable plant products, animal products, or a combination of the two?
These are just some of the potential scopes a supplier might fall under, which will determine which certification programs best suit their business. Some companies work with a certification program owner (CPO) to help narrow down their options and identify certification bodies.
Once a supplier has identified the right GFSI-recognized program for their business, they must find an approved certification body to conduct an audit of their business. A successful third-party audit is mandatory in order to receive GFSI certification.
The auditor will examine things like the company’s documentation of safety policies, the way vendors are vetted and managed, quality control procedures for food products, employee training, and more — though the specifics of the audit will vary depending on which certification scheme the company selects.
Multiple Options, Same Gold Standard
GFSI recognizes that different standards apply to different types of organizations. As such, it offers 10 certification schemes that cover a range of scopes. Each standard has a slightly different focus, but all are committed to food safety. As such, each certification scheme must include:
- Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and/or prerequisite programs (PRPs)
- Preventative controls
- Risk assessment and/or HACCP
This means when you work with suppliers that are GFSI certified, you can trust they follow rigorous food safety protocols, including HACCP — a seven-principle system for managing food safety during production. Food safety is the primary focus of every GFSI standard, but some go above and beyond just safety.
Certain GFSI-recognized standards, such as FSSC 22000 and BRC, also regulate quality. Depending on which standard the supplier has been certified under, they may be globally recognized as adhering to concerns like organic, gluten-free, or sustainability requirements. For example, if a supplier is BRC certified, they may have also been audited for their production of gluten-free foods or animal feed as byproducts.
With Seawind Foods, You Can Count on Safety & Quality
When you choose Seawind Foods as your dehydrated ingredient supplier, you benefit from our rigorous quality and safety procedures, as well as our overall commitment to providing incredible ingredients.
We have the industry’s highest food safety and quality certifications behind us — including GFSI — and we strive to not only meet, but to exceed their requirements every step of the way. When vetting and selecting our processors, we look for not just HACCP but also GFSI-recognized certifications such as BRC and FSSC 22000. When you work with us, you can trust that each supplier is carefully chosen with quality as a priority.
We don’t stop after vetting our suppliers — we work closely with them throughout production. From intensive training in the fields to constant monitoring in production, our global quality team ensures our ingredients are sourced and handled with the utmost care. We work with agronomy experts and accredited external laboratories to carry out rigorous checks, putting our products to the test.
We apply the same quality-based principles to our shipping, storing, and delivery processes, so our ingredients are just as safe, high-quality, and flavorful when you receive them. Request a sample of our exceptional dehydrated ingredients and experience the high quality of Seawind Foods for yourself.