What information should we know about our sources of supply?

June 4th, 2009

Managing and keeping supplier information fresh is a constant challenge for retailers. With the number of food born illness issues during the last couple of years

Managing and keeping supplier information fresh is a constant challenge for retailers. With the number of food born illness issues during the last couple of years, one area that is difficult to keep up with is food industry safety certifications and standards.

The SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database has grown to over 300,000 global suppliers. During the same timeframe the number of certifications we monitor for these suppliers has also grown. In the food space three standards that are regularly adhered to are ISO 22000, SQF and GFSI? So, what’s the difference?

In essence, SQF and GFSI are programs administered by two separate organizations CIES and FMI that are supportive of each other and use ISO 9000 and its derivative ISO 22000 as standards guideline towards driving food safety in the global supply chain.

According to Wikipedia, ISO 22000 is a standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization dealing with food safety and is a general derivative of ISO 9000 which sets standards for quality management. As such, ISO 22000 guides food safety management systems – requirements for any organization in the food chain. Since food safety hazards can occur at any stage in the food chain from production to consumption it is essential that adequate control be in place that by the ISO are referred to as Critical Control Points or potential points of failure in the supply chain that when managed properly can mitigate the risk associated with the hazard ever taking place.

The ISO 22000 international standard specifies the requirements for a food safety management system which SQF and GFSI are that involves interactive communication, systems management and prerequisite programs and the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).This is a systematic preventive approach to food safety which addresses physical, chemical and biological hazards as a means of prevention rather than finished product inspection which could be much more costly.

Think of the ISO as a standards creating body, and SQF and GFSI as programs that at a minimum focus on holding the entire food supply chain accountable to those and other standards.

We look forward and appreciate your comments.

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