During last year’s Global Food Safety Conference (GFSC) in Berlin, Canada co-chaired a side meeting with representatives from 19 other nations to discuss the role of private certification in regulatory oversight. “We are going to continue this conversation and have another round of government-to-government meetings” during the February 2017 GFSC in Houston, Burgham said. Regulators in Canada and other countries have “a great opportunity to leverage the investments that private companies are making toward certification,” he added. “There are real opportunities for those parties to work together.”
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Building Food Safety Capacity
As global markets expand, small food suppliers and processors in less developed countries will become more prominent. Helping them to become certified will help enhance the safety of the overall food chain. To advance this effort, GFSI and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) agreed in June 2016 to develop a program to help small or less-developed food companies become certified, allowing them to potentially gain access to worldwide markets. The joint project is based on GFSI’s Global Markets Program, in which companies that lack or have underdeveloped food safety systems can gain market access through certification to one of the 10 GFSI-recognized schemes.
“This is not a small task. We want to enable the smaller or less developed companies and help them to build that food safety pathway within two years,” says Cindy Giang, senior director, global food safety and supply chain compliance for McDonald’s Corp. USA, and a GFSI board member. “We do not want to have any redundancy around food safety audits. We want to leverage resources, so once audited, once certified, then they are recognized by everyone. That’s our goal.”
Pilot projects have been established in China, in Southeast Asia, and Africa. “The World Health Organization estimates that up to 600 million people fall ill every year after eating contaminated food,” comments Philippe Scholtès, managing director, Program Development and Technical Cooperation, at UNIDO. “Our collaboration with GFSI will further strengthen and promote multiple benefits of safe food for social inclusiveness, sustainability, and industrial development.”