LRQA’S food safety expert Cor Groenveld reports live from GFSI focus day China

“Today was the second regional Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Focus Day China, held in Beijing.  The event attracted over 350 delegates from a wide cross section of stakeholders including retailers, manufacturers, government agencies, academia, certification and accreditation bodies and leading food service companies.

The focus of the event was ‘One World, One Food Safety Vision and was opened by Yves Rey Chairman, Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and Corporate Quality General Manager, Danone Group France.  During his speech, Rey re-enforced one of the key messages from the GFSI, that of the need for collaboration between all stakeholders across the food supply chain – including those within the private and public sector – to ensure the further improvement of food safety.

Speeches too from the CFDA – China Food & Drug Administration – and CNCA (Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China) and they made clear that the GFSI approach is in line with their strategy.  To support this statement, they confirmed that China has submitted their national HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) standard to be benchmarked and approved by the GFSI which they hope will be achieved by the end of this year.  This move clearly demonstrates their desire to be aligned with the rest of global food safety arena.

The day attracted some senior level presenters from some of the world’s leading organisations serving the food sector, all of whom were united in their commitment to drive global food safety.  As Carrefour stated, ‘food safety is a prerequisite.’

Mike Robach – Vice President, Corporate Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs, CARGILL – explained how the changing global dynamics like population growth, the on-going economic crisis and price pressure will bring even more challenges for food safety.  As Mike said, with the forecast growth of the world’s population set to be at 9.3bn by 2050, we will have to double or treble our food production.

The presentations from LRQA saw Andy Du – Regional Food Specialist, LRQA China – explaining the international certification and accreditation process and the specific requirements for China.  I was in the GFSI recognised scheme owner panel presentation, where we talked about the growth of FSSC 22000 – the complete food safety management system scheme which now has over 5000 certificates in 113 countries. China is in the top 5 countries with 550 certificates – 350 for food and 200 for packaging material.

Food fraud also dominated the agenda.  Following the horsemeat scare in Europe and other incidents around the world, the global food companies are working in collaboration to ensure that supply chain management systems and audits can also provide a higher level of confidence against food fraud

During the conference, the second GFSI local networking group was launched.  The objective of this group is to promote the GFSI in China along with promoting the value of certification and builds on the success of the GFSI group in Japan – of which LRQA is a member – and it is anticipated that similar groups will be formed in other key Asia markets.

So in summary, the event gave a complete introduction to the GFSI, an overview of certification and accreditation, information on the GFSI recognised schemes and insight on how even small businesses can implement the GFSI principles within their company.

Listening to the case studies presented during the day and the speeches from some of the key stakeholders helping to shape the food safety market, the event delivered valuable networking opportunities as well as giving us all a glimpse of food safety management systems in the China market.”

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Cor Groenveld is Global Head of Food Supply Chain Services at LRQA.