What is GFSI and Why Should Vegans Know About It

The GFSI, or Global Food Safety Initiative, has been helping consumers since 2000 by ensuring that businesses and food supply chains produce food products that are safe to eat. They employee third party companies such as QIMA to handle the inspections (otherwise known as ‘audits’) of supply chains to enforce that proper standards are being met.

The GFSI standards help to make sure food that makes it into the hands of consumers is:

  • Safe – so you have more reassurance the food will not make you sick
  • Accurate – so you can have more confidence in believing what is on the label is correct
  • Ethical – so you can buy from GFSI certified brands that have ethical suppliers

What is the importance of food safety?

Food safety standards set by the GFSI are guidelines that prevent the accidental consumption of contaminated food, ensure equipment coming into contact with food products is sanitized and clean, and helps those products reach businesses, as well as consumers, safely. Without these guidelines, the unsupervised state of food manufacturing and the supply chains which oversee it could lead to serious or even fatal incidents.

How do GFSI certifications help supply chains—and ultimately, consumers?

When a GFSI audit is performed by an accredited individual or company, they are backed by the organization. This means they use the standards set by the GFSI to inspect these supply chains. An article on SafeFoodEnRoute.com says that there are three reasons why you should have a GFSI audit done:

1.  The GFSI is recognized worldwide.

Maintaining standards in food safety is part of the reason why the GFSI is widely acknowledged. It elevated the base requirements for supply chains in order to improve the consumers’ experiences.

2.  Accredited auditors sent by the GFSI are trained and experienced.

Due to the level of knowledge needed to support the GFSI’s requirements, auditors and auditing companies in the food industry had to be trained to notice specific red flags. Without proper training, standards for supply chains would fall and could lead to significant consequences. For example, auditors must be aware of any cross-contamination within these chains in order to prevent cases of food poisoning in consumers.

3.  Issues must be corrected before a certification is presented.

To cover the necessary areas of food production and transportation, the GFSI contains several different certification types. Some of these focus on food quality, packaging, and transportation. When any issues are found within a supply chain, the GFSI has a procedure that forces the chain member to fix it before they are given a certification. This process ensures flaws in the system are corrected before bigger problems are created.

A Growing Consumer Focus on Food Safety

More and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of organic food and the dangers of chemicals from pesticides. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to work from home, thus leading to more stationary lifestyles. This means more people cooking at home and more attention paid to the foods we buy and what is in them.

Consumers rely on GFSI-certified supply chains and the auditors that inspect them to have high standards for food safety. They don’t want to end up in the hospital due to contaminated or mishandled food. This increased reliance will maintain a business relationship between auditors, supply chains, and consumers so long as there continues to be a focus on safe food production.

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