More from the FDA-USDA traceability meeting on Dec. 10. This is the presentation by Donna Garren on the Global Food Safety Initiative:

Moderator: Dr. Garren is Vice President of Food Safety Programmes for the Consumer Goods Forum. She is responsible for the Global Food Safety Initiative Activities in the Americas. Her extensive background and expertise in food science, nutrition, and regulatory affairs are instrumental in building and enhancing our proactive efforts in food safety. So, Donna, please take the stage.


DR. GARREN: Good morning, and thank you to FDA and USDA for inviting us to speak about our initiative and the traceability components that are evaluated in the schemes that we recognize. Next slide. The Global Food Safety Initiative, or GFSI, was launched at a CIES Annual Congress in May of 2000. It is an established, non-profit making foundation. It is registered in Belgium and was registered in June 2005. It is managed under the umbrella of the Consumer Goods Forum, which was formerly CIES, The Food Business Forum. Food safety is the key element of the Global Food Safety Initiative.

Actually, that is the scope of our initiative as well. It does not go beyond food safety into elements of environmental, animal welfare, social compliance, labor. So our scope for the Global Food Safety Initiative is strictly limited to food safety, and obviously this is something that is very important to the CEOs of the companies that are members. And it is a consumer trust component of what we do.

 A little bit about the Consumer Goods Forum. Our headquarters are in Paris, France, and we have offices around the world. I'm in the Washington, D.C. office, and we have offices in Tokyo, Shanghai, and Singapore. And as I mentioned, the Consumer Goods Forum was formally the CIES,

The Food Business Forum. This summer, it merged with the Global Commerce Initiative, and now we are the Consumer Goods Forum. Our membership includes 200 retailer companies, 200 manufacturer companies, and the companies that we represent are in 150 differentcountries globally.

The mission of the Global Food Safety Initiative is continuous improvement in food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers. And this is something that we take very seriously. The objectives are convergence between food safety standards through maintaining a benchmarking process for food safety management schemes.

So there is some confusion about the Global Food Safety Initiative in regards to we do not own standards or schemes. We actually are through benchmarking. We recognize schemes as being equivalent to each other to try to harmonize or converge through the benchmarking process the number of standards that are used for certification of food manufacturing facilities, hopefully to eliminate some of the cost inefficiencies and improve the cost efficiencies throughout the supply chain through a common acceptance of the schemes or standards that we recognize by the retailers, now the food service companies and other buyers such as manufacturers who are buying ingredients around the world.

 What we also try to provide is an international stakeholder platform for networking, knowledge exchange, and sharing of best food safety practices through these different standards. The rationale of why you actually develop schemes, and schemes obviously in the U.S. have a connotation of being negative, but it is not.

It is actually taking a standard and adding a management component to it. So anyone can create a standard, but unless they're managed and certification is managed, it is not a functioning standard. So why do you actually come up with a food safety scheme? It's to ensure product safety, brand protection, meet legislative or regulatory requirements, meet customer requirements, promote business improvement and efficiencies, and, ultimately, to promote consumer confidence.

As I mentioned, this is our GFSI-recognized scheme. They have to have two elements. They have to have the standard of which we evaluate key elements within the standard, and they have to have a management component in order to be a scheme. These are what schemes are developed on, strong foundation of food laws.

 So as we are considering new legislation and new regulation in traceability, this would be a component of the schemes that we recognize. We actually evaluate schemes based on our Guidance Document, which is in our fifth edition and will not be going into the sixth edition.

Key elements are food safety management systems, traceability being one of those components, and I'll mention that in detail, good practices, HACCP requirements, requirements for delivery of safe food. Traceability, this is within our Guidance Document.

This is the language that is within our Guidance Document. When we're evaluating standards, a standard shall require that the supply develop and maintain appropriate procedures and systems to ensure the identification of any outsourced product, ingredient, or service; complete records of batches of in-process or final product and packaging throughout the production process; and record of purchaser and delivery destination of all product supplied.

This is a very important component, and it is evaluated of all the schemes that we currently recognize. These are the current standards that we recognize.

Obviously this list changes as we continue to benchmark schemes. We're actually benchmarking more pre-farm gate, which would be the ones that represent primary production in seafood and in livestock and in produce. So these are the schemes, BRC, IFS, Dutch HACCP, and SQF are the first four original schemes that we recognized, and then we've added Global G.A.P., GRMS which is a meat standard, and the Food Safety System Certification 22000 which is an ISO 22000-based standard. In 2007, these are the companies that agreed to recognize GFSI-recognized schemes of their suppliers. This collectively represents about $740 billion of product. But the list continues to grow, and we're  working with many, and that's my primary role, to get more companies involved in this activity, and the list continues to grow.

The GFSI, where we see we're adding value, is less duplication in the supply chain, driving continuous improvement in the content of the standards. Again, as traceability continues to evolve, we'll continue to evolve our Guidance Document to reflect that. Healthy competition between existing schemes, driving continuous improvement in the delivery of these standards, more cost efficiency in the supply chain, comparable audit approach and results, and confidence in source and safer food.

This is my contact information as well as information about the actual GFSI. mygfsi.com has background material, frequently asked questions about the program, quite detailed information up there, as well as how you can reach me for further details since my time here is very limited. So I appreciate the opportunity and, you know, any questions, I'll be available today. Thank you.