Wal-Mart adopts GFSI standards
private label and other food products to have their factories
certified against one of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)
The standards are recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative, which was launched by Belgian based CIES (Comité International d'Entreprise à Succursales) in May 2000. Today the GFSI Foundation Board, a retail-driven group, with manufacturer advisory members, provides the strategic direction and oversees the daily management of the GFSI. The GFSI's main task is to maintain a benchmarking process for food safety management schemes to work towards convergence between food safety standards. The GFSI says that the benchmarking work undertaken by the Standard owners and other key stakeholders on four food safety schemes has now reached a point of convergence. The four schemes are: the International Food Standard (IFS), based in Paris, Safe Quality Food (SQF) based in Arlington, USA, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) based in London, and the Dutch Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points food safety system (Dutch HACCP) based in Apeldoorn. Each scheme has now aligned itself with common criteria defined by food safety experts with the objective of making food manufacture as safe as possible. GFSI Standards demand, amongst other things, regular auditing of food processing sites. Wal-Mart said: "GFSI Standards provide real time details on where suppliers fall short in food safety on a plant-by-plant basis and go beyond the current FDA or USDA required audit process". Wal- Mart is the first US-based grocery chain to require GFSI, the company claims. The company has now published a schedule to suppliers requiring completion of initial certification between July and December 2008, with full certification required by July 2009. ASDA, Wal-Mart's UK arm, already requires food suppliers to comply with GFSI Standards. This comes on the tail of the official launch of Wal-Mart's Packaging Scorecard which will be used to assess suppliers on their progress towards developing sustainable packaging. The introduction of the Scorecard is part of Wal-Mart's commitment to reduce packaging across its global supply chain by 5 per cent by 2013. Wal-Mart has said also it would pay more for products of higher quality and with tighter environmental profiles.