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One of the main reasons the food industry is seeking Global Food Safety (GFSI)
Initiative certifications is their customers, or potential customers, are
demanding it. Thus, food companies should investigate which GFSI benchmarked
standard(s) their customers require before developing a food safety management
system that is not recognized by their current or potential customers.

The options of global
food safety certifications tailored for food distributors is limited today. (Crandall,
Mauromoustakos, O’Bryan,
Thompson, Yiannas, Bridges and Francois,
2017).  Bogadi, Banovi? and Babi? (2016) also note that despite
the similarities among them, they have some differences that can make it
difficult to know which certification scheme is appropriate to implement for a
large national food distribution company

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Furthermore,
company-specific challenges and business needs can have a big impact on the
identification and implementation of a GFSI standard. In fact, choosing which GFSI benchmarked standard an enterprise should implement
can be an overwhelming decision.

That being the case, the author has
considered a Consultative Report for the food distributor for whom he works.
Such enterprise has
24,000 employees, over 70 distribution centers across the U.S., and multiple foodservice
and grocery offices. Recently the company decided to embark in GFSI
certifications in 2018.

Just in the
foodservice division, the business serves 36,000 restaurant locations across
the U.S through 49 strategically located distribution centers; and exports to
52 countries around the globe.  The
author considers his employer to be an industry leader. Hence, his company
looks forward to soon engaging in the continuous improvement culture through
either SQF, BRC, IFS or the like.

This Consultative Report category would offer the author the opportunity
to address the dilemma his company is facing in deciding the right fit for a
GFSI standard. He will need to work closely with a faculty advisor and company management.
Also, he will eventually have to perform the consultation for the company and
write recommendations. The goal is for this work to equip similar food
distributors with the knowledge and methods to ascertain a scheme that has the
overall best fit for their organizations. 
Maybe the selection and implementation process of such standard(s) may
be less daunting.

 

What
to Consider when Choosing a Recognized GFSI Scheme

Literature Review

As previously, stated
there appeared to to be a lack of scholarly articles on the GFSI topic. It
appears instead that there are more trade publications, as the subject of
global food safety certifications is relatively an emerging food safety
industry topic.

According to Crandall et
al. (2017), there are about half a dozen options when considering an
internationally accepted food safety certification for wholesale grocers and distributors.

Additionally,
company-specific challenges and business needs can have a big impact on the identification
and implementation of a GFSI standard. In fact, choosing which GFSI benchmarked
standard an enterprise should implement can be an intimidating decision
(Almanza & Nesmith, 2004).

Let’s take an example of a U.S. based food distributor with thousands of employees, dozens
of foodservice and grocery warehouses. Once such company has decided to embark
in GFSI certifications, what is next? And, most importantly, what to consider
when choosing a recognized GFSI management scheme? 

Company
Characteristics and Customer Requirement

 

Kassa, Silverman, and Baroudi
(2010) suggest that, when choosing a food safety scheme for a company, it is
very important to make sure that the scheme fits the organization perfectly. Crandall,
Van Loo, O’Bryan, Mauromoustakos, Yiannas,
Dyenson, and Berdnik. (2012) conclude that it is imperative to
select the scheme that best suits the enterprise by knowing exactly the requirements
of the rules and the customers.

 

That is a vital reason, especially when a
significant number of European agri-food distribution companies demand that
their suppliers meet some type of standard. So, if the customer demands a
certain standard, reasonably, a necessary step to maintain the business
relationship in the medium and long term is to certify by that scheme (Almanza
& Nesmith, 2004).

 

When deciding which standard to be certi?ed
by, a company should ask its customer(s) if they prefer a particular scheme.
Jacxsens, Boxstael, Nanyunja, Jordaan, Luning and Uyttendaele.
(2015) show that the organization can also visit with fellow processors that
are GFSI certi?ed and discuss with them what scheme they are certi?ed by and why
they chose that scheme.

 

Nationality of your foreign clients and the diffusion of the norm

 

The origin of clients is a very important aspect. Depending on their countries of origin or nations where they operate, customers can demand one or multiple standards. BRC began by addressing the needs of British distributors (members of the British Retail Consortium) servicing worldwide retailers and manufacturers of own-brand products, especially in the United States and South America. About five years ago, there were 13,000 BRC-certified suppliers in more than 100 countries. In the case of IFS (International Food Standard), the number of certified companies was 17,000 worldwide in 2012. That year it appeared to be the most globally widespread, having been translated into 20 languages. On the other hand, BRC was available in only 10 the same year (Crandall et al., 2012). Bogadi et al. (2016) point out that the IFS standard is widely found in Europe, with a strong presence in the countries of origin (Germany, France and Italy). It is also the most prevalent standard in Spain and has a presence in the American continent and Asia: a total of 96 countries. Currently, the IFS standard has seen a strong expansion in the number of certification audits. Natu’oil Services (2016) invites us to believe that IFS could become one of the most requested quality and food safety standards in the future—something quite important to evaluate when deciding on one rule or another.

 

Nature of standards Although the goals of the different GFSI schemes are the same, they use different means to achieve certification. The basis of each audit is very similar, but the criteria they follow and their evaluation levels are different. For IFS, there is a rating and scoring system that BRC does not have. The differences between them lie in cultural issues. For example, according to Kassa, Silverman and Baroudi. (2010), BRC makes it possible to certify a supplier with significant dissatisfaction, provided that such supplier produces objective evidence that it has remedied such disagreement within 28 days. In contrast, IFS does not allow the certification if there is any type of nonconformity (Crandall et al., 2017). 

A simple suggestion would be to visit the
websites of potential GFSI schemes a company is considering. Crandall et al.
(2012) suggest that information a firm should look for on a scheme’s website
includes a copy of the code for the type of GFSI audit, guidance document(s)
explaining what is required to comply with the code, a listing of approved
certi?cation bodies for the scheme, etc.

 

Potential
certi?cation bodies

Companies should visit
the websites of potential certi?cation bodies (CB). That can help in con?rming
that the certi?cation body is approved to conduct audits for their type of
operation. Learn what services the certi?cation body offers, like consulting,
pre-audits and audits (Crandall et al., 2012).

Most certi?cation bodies
provide consulting in numerous areas, aside from preparing for a GFSI audit.
They will also conduct pre-audits in which they visit and conduct an unof?cial
pre-audit and provide audit results. Crandall et al. (2017) found that this
allows companies to learn what specific de?ciencies are so they can correct
them before an of?cial audit. Jacxsen et al. (2015) state that combining a
pre-audit with consulting services not only permits the identification of
specific deficiencies, but it offers opportunities for advice on how to correct
them as well. Of course, the certi?cation bodies do conduct of?cial audits for
the scheme they represent.

If possible, it is
beneficial to select a certi?cation body with which a firm already has a
relationship (Crandall et al., 2017)— perhaps an organization that has
conducted third-party Good Manufacturing or Food Safety Audits for the company.
CBs tend to be very busy, so it is recommended to schedule certification audits
well in advance. Likewise, Jacxsens
et al. (2015) found that it is important to strategize when to schedule the
?rst of?cial audit because, most likely, it will determine the time each year
that the firm will have the annual GFSI audit. Generally, a yearly GFSI audit
is within a 60-day window of 30 days before to 30 days after the original audit
date (Crandall et al., 2017). Therefore, it is wise to discuss this with the CB
before scheduling the ?rst of?cial certification audit.

Forecasts of future of each standard Another practical view, as found in Crandall et al. (2012), is that the most successful standard can be one that is required by most companies. Jacxsens et al. (2015) also mention that, as more food companies are likely to want to market their products in Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands than in the United Kingdom, the standard that would eventually be more successful could be IFS. That may also be a good reason to choose it.

Having said
that, regarding the food distributor example – just in its foodservice
division— that company serves 36,000 restaurant locations across the U.S.
through 49 strategically located distribution centers and exports to 52
countries around the globe.  They
consider themselves to be an industry leader. Hence, the company looks forward
to engaging in a continuous improvement culture through either SQF, BRC, IFS or
the like.

This literature review could, in the present
dearth of scholarly literature, help food companies face the dilemma of
deciding the right fit for a GFSI standard. This work may equip similar food
distributors with the knowledge and methods to ascertain a scheme that has the
overall best fit for their organizations. 
Maybe the selection and implementation process of such standard(s) may
be less daunting.

 

 

Milestone #3

A new important reason
why the food industry is seeking
Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certifications is their customers, or
potential customers, are demanding it. Hence, food companies find out they need
to investigate which GFSI benchmarked standard(s) their current and potential
customer recognize and require.

The number of internationally
accepted food safety certifications for food distributors is limited. Differences
between standards and company-specific challenges can complicate selecting an
appropriate scheme, particularly for large companies. In fact, choosing which GFSI benchmarked standard an enterprise should implement
can be a daunting experience.

Consequently, the author
selected a Consultative report type project for my research proposal.  The project is comprised of two sections:

1.     
Selection of the best Food Safety
certification audit standard for, McLane (food distributor).

2.     
Outline of the process to prepare for such
certification audit standard. 

The author plans to
gather the research data as follows: 

a)     
Review
company goals as well as customer needs.

b)     
Evaluate
three leading Global Food Safety Initiative standards for storage and
distribution:

a.       British Retail Consortium

b.      International Featured Standards

c.       Safe Quality Foods

Currently,
there seems to be a lack of scholarly articles on this topic. It appears that
there are more trade publications, as the subject of global food safety
certifications is relatively an emerging food safety industry topic. Therefore,
the scholarly articles the author selected through specialized databases such
as Food Science and Technology Abstracts (FSTA) and PudMed (Medline) will be from the Journal of Food
Protection and from the Journal of Environmental Health. Likewise, the articles
from trade publication will come mainly from Food Engineering Magazine and Food
Logistics Magazine, originated from the same databases.

c)     
Arrange
to survey similar certified logistics companies via email:

a.       Sysco Foods—implemented BRC

b.      Gordon Foodservice—supports SQF

c.       US Foods—utilizes IFS

d.      There may be others such as Reinhart
Foods, H-E-B and Walmart

 

 Analysis
of categorical variables and relationships between categorical variables will
be conducted using an Implementation Survey for similar companies that have
gone through this process. Two of the survey questions w1 can
ask respondents to rate their current level of implementation difficulty of
their chosen certification scheme; and the other can ask them to rate their
implementation satisfaction. Difficulty ratings can be simplified into three
categories: Difficult, So-So, and Easy. Ratings of implementation satisfaction
can be categorized as Dissatisfied, Indifferent and Satisfied.

 

d)     
Data from these two questions can be
organized into a two-way table with Implementation Difficulty as the row
variable and Implementation Satisfaction as the column variable. The marginal
totals (bottom row and right-most column) can be added to the two-way table;
results from rating difficulty and satisfaction. The author then can
potentially look at the distribution of each variable separately (marginal
distribution), or perhaps compute conditional distribution of Implementation
Satisfaction for each Difficulty category.

The next important step would be to select a certification
scheme and certification body. Our current third-party auditing
company is Mérieux NutriSciences. They have the infrastructure to become our
certification body to cover any of the three GFSI standards already mentioned.

We will hire Mérieux as a
consultant to strategically help McLane conduct a gap analysis for one distribution
center from each business unit:

a)     
Grocery
division—McLane Southwest

b)     
Foodservice
division

a.       100 series, our original foodservice
business —McLane Arlington

b.      600 series, our 5-year old
foodservice business acquisition—McLane Fort Worth

Subsequently, the gap analysis, which would consist of a line
by line comparison of three distinct, existing, written food safety protocols,
will shed light for a necessary company-wide policy consolidation and
standardization. In other words, each business unit (Grocery and the two
Foodservice divisions, namely 100 series and 600 series) has its own version of
QA Manual and QA forms/logs. Finally, the company Food Safety will Team train
and rollout the schedule of the chosen Global Food Safety Initiative scheme in
2018 and 2019 for a total of 70 distribution centers.

 w1It
may be useful to include an example of the type of questions you plan to ask.

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