In 2000, the Consumer Goods Forum established the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) to increase the safety of the world's food supply and to harmonize food safety regulations worldwide. In 2013, a university research team in conjunction with Diversey Consulting (Sealed Air), the Consumer Goods Forum, and officers of GFSI solicited input from more than 15,000 GFSI-certified food producers worldwide to determine whether GFSI certification had lived up to these expectations. A total of 828 usable questionnaires were analyzed, representing about 2,300 food manufacturing facilities and food suppliers in 21 countries, mainly across Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North America. Nearly 90% of these certified suppliers perceived GFSI as being beneficial for addressing their food safety concerns, and respondents were eight times more likely to repeat the certification process knowing what it entailed. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of these food manufacturers would choose to go through the certification process again even if certification were not required by one of their current retail customers. Important drivers for becoming GFSI certified included continuing to do business with an existing customer, starting to do business with new customer, reducing the number of third-party food safety audits, and continuing improvement of their food safety program. Although 50% or fewer respondents stated that they saw actual increases in sales, customers, suppliers, or employees, significantly more companies agreed than disagreed that there was an increase in these key performance indicators in the year following GFSI certification. A majority of respondents (81%) agreed that there was a substantial investment in staff time since certification, and 50% agreed there was a significant capital investment. This survey is the largest and most representative of global food manufacturers conducted to date.
Keywords: Food processing; Food safety; Global Food Safety Initiative.