Published on: February 5, 2008Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced yesterday that it will require suppliers of its private label and other food products such as produce, meat, fish, poultry and ready-to-eat foods to have their factories certified against one of the internationally recognized Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards.”
According to a press release issued by Wal-Mart yesterday, “A group of major international retailers committed to strengthening consumer confidence in the food they purchase, the GFSI now lists Wal-Mart among the companies who have agreed to improve food safety through a higher and consistent auditing standard.
“Selected by CIES, the Food Business Forum, to safeguard and ensure high quality in the international food supply chain, GFSI standards provide real time details on where suppliers fall short in food safety on a plant-by-plant basis, and go beyond the current FDA or USDA required audit process. Under the GFSI program, producers of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club private label and other foods sold in the U.S. must be audited by independently trained, approved and licensed auditors who are experts in their industry … The GFSI requires food suppliers to achieve factory audit certification against one of its recognized standards, which include Safe Quality Food (SQF), British Retail Consortium (BRC), International Food Standard (IFS), or an equivalent such as Global GAP. Wal-Mart has published a schedule to suppliers requiring completion of initial certification between July and December of 2008, with full certification required by July 2009. Audits will be completed by approved third party auditing companies.”
At last June’s CIES annual World Food Business Summit in Shanghai, Wal-Mart was one of seven global retailers announcing that they had come to an agreement to adhere to GFSI standards. The others were Carrefour, Tesco, Metro, Migros, Ahold and Delhaize.
The agreement was described as a “breakthrough” that marked “a step change in the orientation of GFSI. The group will now concentrate on the application of the schemes by examining auditor competence, along with upcoming issues such as food security and food safety in emerging markets.”
The CIES-led GFSI initiative was set up in 2000 to pursue continuous improvement in global food safety systems, cost efficiency in the supply chain, and above all safer food for consumers worldwide.
- KC's View:
- This sort of global approach to food safety, coming at a time when global sourcing has become both ubiquitous and troubling, is critical.
FYI…CIES is holding its annual Global Food Safety Conference in Amsterdam next week, with more than 560 delegates from 45 countries scheduled to attend. MNB will be there to cover the proceedings…and I will have the opportunity to present a video that I produced about how CEOs from virtually every major global food retailer views food safety issues, as well as to moderate a panel discussion on the subject that will include executives from Wal-Mart, Hannaford Supermarkets, ShopRite, Supervalu and Amazon.com. (I can't wait – this is a great group of people that I expect to be both illuminating and provocative.)
I have no idea of there is any room left for new attendees, but if you are interested in finding out more about whjat is shaping up to be a terrific conference, go to: