The 16th Global Food Safety Conference (GFSC) held in Houston from February 27 to March 2 brought together nearly 1,200 food industry representatives—including top food CEOs and government regulators—from 54 countries, resulting in record-breaking attendance. BBC journalist Adam Shaw moderated this year’s theme of Leadership for Growth, keeping the CEOs and regulators on their toes with hard-hitting questions.
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But before the official start of the event on February 27, the food industry held its own version of a “G30” summit as governments from 30 countries with over 100 representatives converged before the conference to discuss how they view the potential integration of private food safety assurance schemes within the context of national control systems and how to leverage the industry’s investment in private certification for public policy results. Multilateral organizations included the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, and the International Finance Corp.
Overall, the GFSI event was jam packed with groundbreaking announcements, thought-provoking presentations, dynamic smaller group sessions, and an interactive exhibit floor. One thing was evident during the conference: GFSI has certainly been keeping itself busy.
GFSI, which is powered by The Consumer Goods Forum, announced the publication of its 7th version of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements. The Benchmarking Requirements V7, which acts as a “food safety passport” across global supply chains, facilitates international trade and mutual trust in the level of safety systems in place.
“With food traded globally, we need to work together to ensure one safe food supply,” said Mike Robach, chairman of the GFSI Board of Directors and VP of corporate food safety and regulatory affairs at Cargill. “That is why GFSI’s Benchmarking Requirements are a spectacularly collaborative effort and really reflect years of expertise from industry experts and food scientists.”
GFSI is expanding its inclusive farm-to-fork approach by incorporating the new scope of the supply chain Food Brokers and Agents in this new edition. V7 also includes new requirements to incorporate unannounced audits and to fight food fraud, and overall to increase transparency in the benchmarking process.
To help in the fight against food fraud, Alchemy Systems and the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) announced a collaboration that enables food companies of all sizes to assess supply chain risk and build robust systems to minimize food fraud. Alchemy’s Food Fraud Risk Assessment and Mitigation services will be combined with USP’s Food Fraud Database and expertise so that companies can better safeguard their brands. The Alchemy-USP collaboration will enable companies to prioritize fraud risks down to the ingredient.
USP also announced its collaboration with the global authenticity competence center of EUROFINS group to tackle food fraud. The agreement includes exploring new analytical testing methods, training, and consulting to help the food sector assess the vulnerability of supply chains, and other services based on food fraud data to inform stakeholders of emerging issues.
Not to be outdone on the collaboration front, GFSI also had its own announcement. Enforcing its message of strengthening the collaboration between the public and the private sectors, GFSI publicized its public-private partnership with the Mexican National Service of Health, Food Safety and Agro-Food Quality (SENASICA), the Mexican government agency responsible for the safety of fresh and minimally-processed food products.