The Global Food Safety Initiative published the seventh version of the G.F.S.I. Guidance Document and changed the name to the GFSI  Benchmarking Requirements, the group announced Feb. 28 during the opening of the Global Food Safety Conference taking place in Houston this week. New content within version 7 targets requirements to fight food fraud, to incorporate unannounced audits, and initiatives to increase transparency and objectivity in the benchmarking process.

The GFSI Benchmarking Requirements will be used by third-party certifiers to create what the group calls a food safety passport. Examples of third-party certifiers currently working within the system include FSSC 22000, SQF, BRC Global Standards, Global GAP and others.

“GFSI gathers the industry to achieve what no one company — or country — could do alone,” said Mike Robach, chairman of the GFSI board of directors and vice-president of food safety, quality and regulatory affairs for Cargill, Minneapolis. “With food traded globally, we need to work together to ensure one safe food supply. That is why GFSI's Benchmarking Requirements are a spectacularly collaborative effort and really reflect years of expertise from industry experts and food scientists.”

The way the GGSI process works is once successfully benchmarked, third-party certifiers are recognized by GFSI, which lends a nameplate authority to any operation obtaining certification from one the certifiers. The GFSI-recognized programs operate as a kind of food safety passport, according to the group, by creating a common understanding and mutual trust in the supply chain.

Operations achieving certification with the GFSI stamp of approval may do business with local and international food companies requiring stringent standards and practices. The harmonization of food safety across borders and barriers is one of the main achievements of GFSI and a key ongoing effort, the group said.