What is GFSI Certification?

Saro Loucks

Saro Loucks

March 29, 2023

What is GFSI Certification?

Have you been told by a potential buyer that your product needs to be GFSI certified?

Obtaining certification for your company can be an intimidating undertaking. Let’s look at GFSI, its peculiarities, and how to make the certification process easier.

What does GFSI Certification mean?

Well, GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) in itself is NOT a certification program.  However you can become certified to a food safety standard (certification scheme) that is recognized by GFSI by meeting their stringent benchmarking standards. GFSI is coordinated by The Consumer Goods Forum which is made up of 44 retailers and manufacturers from all over the world. Many buyers will require that their suppliers achieve a “GFSI Benchmarked” certification standard. There are many options for certification schemes that they recognize, and they are listed below.

After you select the standard you wish to use like SQF certification or BRC (BRCGS) certification, you implement it in your business and then have a 3rd-party audit conducted by a certification body or (CB). After you successfully pass your audit, you will be granted your certificate.

What are the 4 major steps to getting a GFSI Certificate?

One- Choose an appropriate GFSI Benchmarked Standard for certification.

GFSI Benchmarked Standards:

How do you choose the appropriate standard?

Choosing a GFSI benchmarked standard to meet your specific demands requires a thorough needs analysis.

There is a complete set of aspects to implement while choosing the best scheme:

  • What 3rd-party certification do your buyers require?
  • Customer requirements and complaints
  • How long is the audit?
  • How often do you need to be audited? Annually? Bi-annually?
  • What commodity does the certification cover?
  • How much food safety experience do you have?

Spoiler: if you are a food manufacturer, most likely, you will need to pass SQF or BRC certification. But we recommend you think carefully and even ask for help. FoodReady will be eager to assist you!

Two – Relevant staff must be educated and trained on the requirements of your chosen GFSI Standard. You can find resources online for training for your chosen standard.

Three- Implement your food safety management system. You must use a document management system and record all the processes related to your food production, recall management, complaint management, batch management, environmental monitoring, HACCP plans, SOPs, PRPs, checklists, etc.

A HACCP plan is an essential need when passing a GFSI audit. It won’t guarantee a certificate, but it is required and plays a significant role in passing the audit. Read more about the HACCP plan and why you need one.

Four- Pass an audit of your process and facility performed by a Certification Body to receive your certification.

Remember that GFSI-recognized certificates expire, and you need to follow the updates and recertify once in an established period according to your certificate requirements.

What are the benefits of GFSI?

GFSI Certification is accepted by almost every food buyer and is considered the most comprehensive level of food safety management.

The Costco audit has their own requirements which are based on GFSI with a few additions specific to Costco. Having a GFSI certification as your base and then implementing the Costco additions is not a huge leap. 

Having GFSI Certification means you are providing safe quality food to the end consumer, while maintaining and improving your brand integrity.

It also prepares your facility and process for government regulatory rules in use now and coming in the future.

Getting GFSI compliant now will save you money in the long run by making your product “shelf ready” because virtually all buyers will accept GFSI as their preferred food safety certification for processed foods.

FoodReady is your all-in-one food safety management system for GFSI certification.

  1. FoodReady has a HACCP/PC builder and recall plan builder for recall management. 
  2. FoodReady provides a library of SQF Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) examples as part of its SQF software subscription.
  3. FoodReady provides a Verification Dashboard that allows for supervisor sign-offs and review of corrective actions in one single view
  4. FoodReady automates the corrective action process with conditional logic checklists and min and max values for food safety criteria, such as pH and temperature, inside the mobile app. Corrective action management is a requirement of SQF.
  5. FoodReady has a robust reporting section that allows for the creation of audit-ready reports for SQF auditors or dashboard views.
  6. FoodReady provides the ability when the FoodReady system is fully implemented to provide production traceability which is also a requirement of SQF.
  7. FoodReady has a GFSI consultant to help you prepare for and pass your GFSI audit.
  8. FoodReady has record keeping and document management.
  9. FoodReady has environmental monitoring programs. 
  10. FoodReady has a complaint management system.

FoodReady software and consulting helps you get ready and stay ready for any scheduled or surprise GFSI related audit.

So, what do you know about GFSI certification now?

Awareness of the topic makes you feel more confident and ready to act. Let’s summarize the main points about GFSI certification and highlight the most important.

  • GFSI is not a certification program, but you can choose a GFSI benchmarked standard suitable for your business.
  • There are four main steps to getting GFSI certified. You will choose a GFSI scheme, train your staff, implement a food safety program, and pass the audit. Don’t forget the certificates expire!
  • GFSI-recognized certification will make customers trust you, improve your brand integrity, and boost your company’s development on the market.
  • FoodReady will help you make your GFSI certification journey easier. We will help you throughout your whole GFSI journey, and our GFSI consultants will assist you with choosing the proper 3rd party audit, HACCP plan, and other required stages. Contact us or click the button below to start your free 14-day trial with no card needed!

Try it out today and see how FoodReady can help you pass a 3rd-party audit.

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FAQs About GFSI Certification:

What is the timeline for GFSI certification?

The timeline for GFSI certification depends on factors such as the complexity of the organization’s food safety system and the availability of resources.

Does GFSI certification guarantee food safety?

GFSI certification is a valuable tool in managing food safety, but it does not guarantee food safety.

Is GFSI certification mandatory?

GFSI certification is not mandatory, but many organizations choose to obtain it in order to demonstrate their commitment to food safety.

Is GFSI certification internationally recognized?

Yes, GFSI certification is internationally recognized.

What are the differences between GFSI certification and other food safety programs?

GFSI certification is a globally recognized standard, while other food safety programs may have different scope and application.

In this article

Saro Loucks

Saro Loucks

HACCP Certified, food safety enthusiast.

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