11 mins read

What is GFSI Certification and Which Standard Is Right for Me?

Have you been asked to get GFSI Certified? What does it mean and how do you know which GFSI recognised Standard is right for you and your organisation?

In this article, we explore the enswers to these questions, as well as provide some tips to implement and achieve certification:

What is GFSI Certification?

To begin your understanding of GFSI and its role in food safety, we need to take a look at the history of food safety and how audits came about from a regulatory perspective.

Each year, it is estimated that around 600 million people across the world – that’s almost 1 in 10 – become ill after consuming contaminated food. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a coalition of retailers and manufacturers, who have come together to provide a framework for the supply of safe food. The GFSI, consisting of 42 retail and manufacturing members from across the globe, was established in 2000 with the sole purpose of bringing together key global stakeholders within the food safety community to collaborate and work towards one goal – safe food for everyone.



The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a coalition of retailers and manufacturers, who have come together to provide a framework for the supply of safe food.

To achieve this, a rigorous benchmarking, harmonising, and cross-referencing process is undertaken to ensure that the participating scheme and standards are consistent with international best practices. A list of food safety standards and schemes in which GFSI have accepted or recognised is available on their website. These are called GFSI Benchmarked Standards. These internationally recognised standards and scheme are continuously updated to achieve high levels of technical performance, efficiency, and effectiveness.

The purpose of the GFSI is to ensure all businesses involved in the food supply chain have an effective food safety management system in place, that includes appropriate product, process, and people-based controls. This will help organisations meet the safety expectations of consumers, business partners and regulators across the globe.

Steps Towards GFSI Certification

Step 1: Getting Started with GFSI

You may have first heard about GFSI when one of your customers asked to see your GFSI certification. Although the GFSI itself is not a certification program, nor does it carry out any accreditation or certification activities, GFSI recognition grants authority to the respective standards and schemes, acting as a “food safety passport” to the global market.

To get started, it is recommended that you familiarise yourself with HACCP to understand the fundamentals of food safety and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points. Having knowledge and training in this area is not only instrumental in developing a successful food safety management system, but it is also a requirement under many GFSI Benchmarked Standards and have HACCP requirements embedded in their programs.

Step 2: Selecting the Standard to become Certified to – Which Standard is Right for Me?

The most common GFSI Benchmarked Standards adopted by the food and beverage industry are BRCGSFSSC 22000, and SQF, along with Global G.A.P., and IFS. Although ISO 22000 is not recognised by the GFSI, FSSC 22000 is very similar and uses ISO 22000 as the requirements for the management system.

The adoption and certification of a GFSI Benchmarked Standard enables you and your business to access global food markets, and manage your risks, whilst building trust and confidence in your product. However, selecting which standard to become certified to can be a daunting process as there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. It is also important to understand the differences to decide which standard best aligns with your organisation’s capabilities and product category.

Some questions you may ask to help choose the right standard for you and your organisation include:

1. Is GFSI recognition important to your organisation? Are customers requesting this, or does your market favour these schemes? For example, if you are looking to supply to any Major Retailers, it is a requirement that you are certified to a GFSI Benchmarked Standard.

2. Is your industry segment included in the scope of the program for certification? For example, SQF can be applied to many different industry segments such as food processing and manufacturing, manufacturing of food packaging material manufacturing, food distribution, or animal feed manufacturing.

3. What documents are required and how do they apply to your organisation? For example, SQF uses code which is made up of Modules; all businesses are required to comply with Module 2, plus one other Module that defines the requirements for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for their industry.

Whitepaper: GFSI Benchmarked Standards

In this white paper we’ll give you some tips for selecting the right standard for your organisation.

Step 3: Get trained on the requirements

Once you have selected the GFSI Benchmarked Standard to adopt, your next step is to get training on the requirements for certification and help determine which certification program is most aligned to your business. Intertek SAI Global offer a range of courses to assist you with this process, and can be completed online at your own pace, virtually, face-to-face, or customised and delivered directly to your organisation in-house.

Upon completion, you should be able to:

  • Describe the scope of companies and products covered by the Standard
  • Know what is required to comply with the requirements of the Standard
  • Be able to prepare for an audit to the Standard
  • Understand the protocol for audits to the Standard
Need help? Consider Partnering with a Consultant.
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Step 4: Implementing a food safety management system and document your process

All of the standards are built on the foundation of food safety management systems and creating a culture of food safety in all that you do. An effective food safety management system enables organisations to systematically examine every aspect their food handling processes. This includes developing documentation to meet business and standards requirements, training staff and implementing systems in the business, conducting internal audits, performing a gap analysis, and conducting management review meetings.

→ For more information, read the blog to learn how to Establish and Implement an Effective Food Safety Management System


Step 5: Audit and Certification

Now that you have established and implemented an effective food safety management system and, no doubt, made some tweaks along the way to ensure it is working for your organisation, the final step is selecting a certification body to conduct an audit and achieve your GFSI certification.

While audits are not an end to themselves, nor are they the time for pointing fingers and finding fault, they provide an opportunity for you to determine if your food safety management system is working as it should. The purpose of an audit is to identify gaps and shortcomings, after which the team will have the opportunity to make any corrective actions necessary to align with the GFSI Benchmarked Standard’s requirements. This is to ensure that the process is safe, effective, efficient, and consistent throughout all locations.

Although the food safety auditing process can be a daunting experience for many, with the right experience and expertise, an auditor can help make this process easier for you and provide a comprehensive and compliant audit report based on your requirements and requirements of your chosen GFSI Benchmarked Standard.

→ Read the blog for tips on how to Prepare for your food Safety Audit

Why Intertek SAI Global

We’re here to help build a world-class, globally competitive, and sustainable food industry today.

With over 25 years of experience and a global reputation built on first-class delivery and technical support. Intertek SAI Global has partnered with the food industry for decades, engaging with hundreds of food and beverage suppliers, manufacturers and contractors throughout their assessment and certification process – while making the process as seamless and simple as possible.

With teams located across Australia, our auditors at Intertek SAI Global have the local resources and relevant food industry experience and expertise needed to understand your unique requirements, and assist you through the certification process, and identify opportunities for continual development and improved performance.

Expertise You Can Trust – At Intertek SAI Global, we are committed to supporting our customer. Adding value is at the core of our business and our processes. Let us show you how assessment and certification can add value to your business. Australia-wide, delivering over 60,000 audits each year, your local Intertek SAI Global team is equipped to support your unique requirements.

Transparent and Honest – We make sure to approach everything with transparency and integrity. We will explain your audit durations and break down the costs associated. We ensure you understand your quote and guarantee no hidden costs or chargeable expenses until the audit is completed.

Customer Service for Added Support – Our customers are our number one focus. Your local Intertek SAI Global team has the experience to support you to ensure your Food Safety Management System meets your unique business requirements. Your Intertek SAI Global customer support system includes a dedicated business development manager, a scheduling team, an invoicing team and experienced local auditors.

With the ongoing challenges facing the food industry, it’s time to build a stronger and more effective food safety management system. Contact us to speak to a food safety expert and see how we can help you and your business achieve food safety excellence.

Request a callback today.

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