Steps to GFSI Recognized Certification

Cynthia Weber, December 5, 2007



Recommended Steps to Certification

How does a company start down the path to GFSI-recognized Certification  There are different answers to this question that depend on your company’s current food safety management system.

Do you have a management system in place? Are you using HACCP now? If the answer to either one of these is yes, you will have a head start on the project. But let’s talk about how to approach the project if the answer to these questions is no. (If either answer was yes, you can modify this plan to account for what you already have in place) This is one way to approach the project:

  1. The first key step is for management to recognize the need for a Food Safety Management System. This is critical to having management commitment. Without management commitment you will not have a successful project. Management will need to provide resources as well as play a key role in the development of the system.
  2. Top Management designates a Practitioner or Food Safety Team Leader, this person will be the project leader or project manager for the implementation. The Food Safety Team Leader and Top Management make up the “Steering Team” that will lead the project. Top management will identify and document the members of this team.
  3. Gather resources:  Download or purchase the standard that you will be using.
  4. The Food Safety Team Leader schedules and coordinates a Steering Team Meeting to determine the scope of the FSMS. All applicable regulatory, statutory, and customer requirements will also be identified.
  5. The Steering Team will meet to determine the makeup of the Food Safety Team or HACCP Team. Detailed consideration will be given to the necessary qualifications and training for an effective team. Team members will be identified. If expertise is not available internally, the steering team will determine how to bring in the expertise or resources needed.
  6. The Steering Team will establish a timeline and resources for the project.
  7. The Steering Team will identify the responsibilities of The HACCP or Food Safety Team. This team will play a large role in the development of the system, with most of their efforts related to the Hazard Analysis, HACCP plan, and related items.
  8. The Steering Team will designate teams to design and document the remaining processes required by the standard.  For example, a document control team can evaluate the current process, compare it to the requirements of the standard, and design and document the new process.
  9. The Steering Team puts together a list of team members and a timeline for each of these teams.
  10. The Steering Team established the Food Safety Policy and objectives, along with a communication plan.
  11. The Food Safety Management Team starts on the Hazard Analysis, Prerequisite Programs, and HACCP Plan.
  12. The Steering Team documents a process for Management Review and coordinates the development of an organizational chart and job descriptions.
  13. As each team completes a new procedure, they submit it to the Steering Team for review and approval.
  14. The Steering Team meets on a regular basis to watch the timeline and review procedures.
  15. The Steering Team will select a Registrar.
  16. As the system nears completion, the Steering Team coordinates employee training on the standard, GMPs, and the new system as well as the training of an internal audit team.
  17. As the new processes are put in place, internal audits and management review meetings can begin.
  18. The Food Safety Team leader will coordinate with the Registrar to schedule a Registration Audit. The timing for this audit will be approximately 3 months after the system is complete so that sufficient records will be available to demonstrate the effectiveness of the system. At least one cycle of internal audits and management review will be completed before the audit.