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Companies' Opinions and Acceptance of Global Food Safety Initiative Benchmarks after Implementation

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Abstract:

International attention has been focused on minimizing costs that may unnecessarily raise food prices. One important aspect to consider is the redundant and overlapping costs of food safety audits. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) has devised benchmarked schemes based on existing international food safety standards for use as a unifying standard accepted by many retailers. The present study was conducted to evaluate the impact of the decision made by Walmart Stores (Bentonville, AR) to require their suppliers to become GFSI compliant. An online survey of 174 retail suppliers was conducted to assess food suppliers' opinions of this requirement and the benefits suppliers realized when they transitioned from their previous food safety systems. The most common reason for becoming GFSI compliant was to meet customers' requirements; thus, supplier implementation of the GFSI standards was not entirely voluntary. Other reasons given for compliance were enhancing food safety and remaining competitive. About 54 % of food processing plants using GFSI benchmarked schemes followed the guidelines of Safe Quality Food 2000 and 37 % followed those of the British Retail Consortium. At the supplier level, 58 % followed Safe Quality Food 2000 and 31 % followed the British Retail Consortium. Respondents reported that the certification process took about 10 months. The most common reason for selecting a certain GFSI benchmarked scheme was because it was widely accepted by customers (retailers). Four other common reasons were (i) the standard has a good reputation in the industry, (ii) the standard was recommended by others, (iii) the standard is most often used in the industry, and (iv) the standard was required by one of their customers. Most suppliers agreed that increased safety of their products was required to comply with GFSI benchmarked schemes. They also agreed that the GFSI required a more carefully documented food safety management system, which often required improved company food safety practices and increased employee training. Adoption of a GFSI benchmarked scheme resulted in fewer audits, i.e., one less per year. An educational opportunity exists to acquaint retailers and suppliers worldwide with the benefits of having an internationally recognized certification program such as that recognized by the GFSI.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-11-550

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72704, USA. crandal@uark.edu 2: Department of Food Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72704, USA; Department of Agricultural Economics, Bioscience Engineering Faculty, Ghent University, Coupure links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium 3: Department of Food Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72704, USA 4: Agricultural Statistics Laboratory, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701, USA 5: Walmart Stores, Bentonville, Arkansas 72716, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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