No less than two new versions of the GFSI standard were published in the first half of 2017. The changes that are implemented in the GFSI standard have no direct impact on your quality system. These changes will be processed by the participating quality standards; the publication of a revised version of both BRC and IFS is to be expected in the course of 2018. These changes have been processed in version 4 of FSSC 22000, which was recently published and that will be auditted as of 2018. The changes in the GFSI standard provide insight into the future requirements of the BRC, IFS or FSSC-norm.
The scope of the GFSI standard was considerably expanded in an initial thorough revision (version 7.0) to include sectors such as storage, transport, distribution and the production of packaging materials. This expansion anticipates on new quality standards that were published in the past years, such as IFS Broker and BRC Storage & Distribution.
In addition, the requirements regarding the prevention of food fraud and intentional contamination in particular have been accentuated. It is to be mandatory to conduct a separate risk analysis for both Food Fraud as well as Food Defense and to draw up an overview of management measures. The terms Food Fraud and Food Defense were previously incorporated in the majority of the quality standards, but are now worked out in more detail.
The requirements with respect to working with allergens have been expanded as well. You are obligated to conduct a documented risk analysis in order to avoid cross contamination. Moreover, you are to take the allergen laws in the country of sales into account when conducting this risk analysis: the allergens defined by law may differ from one country to another, as well as the notification method on the packaging.
It is the explicit desire of the GFSI organisation to switch to unannounced audits in the future. Which is why every quality standard should offer an unannounced audit programme as the preferred option. Unannounced audits will not become mandatory straight away, but they will be given preference more and more often. Version 4 of FSSC 22000 takes this a step further and stipulates the unannounced follow-up audit to be mandatory.
Shortly after the publication of version 7, yet another new update of the GFSI standard (version 7.1) became available. This version contains minor changes in order to gear the GFSI requirements to the new FSMA laws in the United States that are currently being rolled out. Which is why this version explicitly states that food producers must not only comply with the laws in the country where the production occurs, but also in the country where the sales take place. This is particularly relevant to companies that export to the United States (and therefore must comply with the FSMA laws). An additional adjustment that is worth mentioning concerns the use of ’non-approved’ suppliers. Your quality system must include an emergency procedure that enables you to work with non-approved suppliers on a temporary basis in circumstances in which you cannot make use of your standard suppliers.
All of the adjustments described above will be implemented in the course of 2018 in the quality standards as stipulated in the GFSI. 2018 promises to be a busy year for the quality manager.