Global Food Safety Standards

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a private organization, established by the international trade association, the Consumer Goods Forum (CIES – The Food Business Forum at the time) in May 2000. GFSI does not undertake any certification or accreditation activities.

The GFSI specify the requirements for the recognition of food safety schemes in its GFSI Guidance Document and determines the equivalence of existing food safety standards for through an objective comparison with GFSI defined requirements. The perceived benefit to this process is that any of the GFSI recognised food safety certification schemes would be accepted by food organizations across the world, the vision: “Once certified, accepted everywhere.”

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) is a global industry network of CEOs and senior management of over 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers and other stakeholders across 70 countries. Forum member companies have combined sales of EUR 3.5 trillion, the retailer and manufacturer members directly employ nearly 10 million people with a further 90 million related jobs estimated along the value chain*.

* Source:

The launch of the Global Food Safety Initiative in 2000 was a business-driven initiative for the continuous improvement of food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide. GFSI was established following a number of food safety crises including issues with BSE, Listeria and Dioxin leading to consumer confidence in food safety being at an all-time low. At the time the food industry was suffering from “audit exhaustion”, as retailers and manufacturers performed inspections or audits themselves or asked a third party to do this on their behalf. In addition, there was no cohesion within the food industry with regards to a single accepted food safety standard.

GFSI defines the food safety requirements for food safety schemes through its benchmarking requirements. Food safety certification schemes are recognised by GFSI when they have been through a procedure where the food safety certification scheme is compared to the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements. By recognizing food safety certification schemes the GFSI aims to extend the acceptance and implementation of third party certification along the entire food supply chain. Despite the BRC Food Technical Standard and Protocol for food suppliers being available, it was not likely to be globally accepted so GFSI chose to go down the route of benchmarking, developing a model that determines equivalency between existing food safety schemes, whilst leaving flexibility and choice in the marketplace.

Through its benchmarking process, GFSI allows food businesses to select a food safety management system certification scheme that is recognised by leading retailers and manufacturers internationally. GFSI Guidance Documents are drafted with input from food safety experts from all over the world and define the process by which food safety schemes may gain recognition by GFSI.

GFSI’s aim is to cover all scopes of the food supply chain “from farm to fork”. GFSI Scopes of Recognition include:

GFSI Scope of Recognition
(Benchmarking Category Code)
Benchmarking Category NameExamples of Products / Services and method of production
A IFarming of AnimalsAnimals (other than fish and seafood) used for meat production, egg production, milk production or honey production
Growing, keeping, trapping and hunting (slaughtering at point of hunting)
A IIFarming of FishFish and seafood used for meat production
Growing, trapping and fishing
(slaughtering at point of capture)
B IFarming of PlantsGrowing or harvesting of plants (other than grains and pulses) for food
B IIFarming of Grains and PulsesGrowing or harvesting of grains and pulses for food
CAnimal ConversionLairage, slaughter, evisceration, bulk chilling, bulk freezing of animals
Gutting, bulk freezing of fish
Storage of game
DPre-process handling of plant productsDe-shelling of nuts
Drying of grain
Grading of fruit and vegetables
Cleaning, washing, rinsing, fluming, sorting, grading, trimming, bundling, cooling, hydro-cooling, waxing, drenching, packing, re-packing, staging, storing, loading and / or any other handling activity that does not significantly transform the product from its original harvested form.
E IProcessing of animal perishable productsProduction of animal products including fish and seafood
Meat, eggs, dairy and fish products
Deboning, cutting, washing, trimming, grading, pasteurisation, cooking, curing, fermentation, smoking, chilling, freezing, packed in modified atmosphere, packed in vacuum packing.
E IIProcessing of plant perishable productsProduction of plant products (including grains, nuts, and pulses)
Washing, slicing, dicing, cutting, shredding, peeling, grading, pasteurisation, cooking, chilling, juicing, pressing, freezing, packed in modified atmosphere, packed in vacuum packing or any other activity that significantly transforms the product from its original whole state
E IIIProcessing of perishable animal and plant products (mixed products)Production of animal and plant products
Mixing, cooking, chilling, freezing, packed in modified atmosphere, packed in vacuum packing
E IVProcessing of ambient stable productsProduction of food products from any source that are stored and sold at ambient temperature
Aseptic filling, baking, bottling, brewing, canning, cooking, distilling, drying, extrusion, fermentation, freeze drying, pressing, frying, hot filling, irradiating, milling, mixing and blending, packed in modified atmosphere, packed in vacuum packing, pasteurising, pickling, roasting, salting and refining
FProduction of feedProduction of feed from a single or mixed food source
Drying, cooking, milling, mixing and blending and extrusion
GCateringProduction of food products from any source for consumption outside the home
Cooking, mixing and blending, preparation of component products
HRetail / WholesaleProvision of finished food and feed products to a customer
Retailing and wholesaling of food and feed
IProvision of Food Safety ServicesSupply of services related to the safe production of food
Water Supply
Pest Control
Cleaning Services
Test Laboratories
JProvision of Storage and Distribution ServicesStorage facilities for food and feed
Distribution vehicles for food and feed
KManufacture of Food Processing EquipmentProduction of food and feed processing equipment
LProduction of (Bio) ChemicalsProduction of food and feed additives, vitamins, minerals, bio-cultures, flavourings, enzymes and processing aids
MProduction of Food PackagingProduction of food and feed packaging, packaging materials, packaging components in the form of raw materials, part processed, semi converted, converted or fully finished packaging materials and products for use in the supply chain.
NFood Broker / AgentThe supply of finished food and feed products

GFSI Recognised Certification Programmes

The following schemes are currently recognised by GFSI:
  • PrimusGFS Standard (v2.1 – December 2011)
  • IFS PACsecure, Version 1
  • Global Aquaculture Alliance Seafood BAP Seafood Processing Standard
  • GLOBALG.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance Scheme version 5, Produce Safety Standard version 4 and Harmonized Produce Safety Standard
  • FSSC 22000 – October 2011 Issue
  • Global Red Meat Standard (GRMS) 4th Edition Version 4.1
  • CanadaGAP Scheme Version 6 Options B, C and D and Program Management Manual Version 6
  • SQF Code 7th Edition Level 2
  • BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 7
  • IFS Food Standard Version 6
  • BRC Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials Issue 5
  • IFS Logistics Version 2.1
  • BRC Global Standard for Storage and Distribution V3
  • Portfolio Item
  • BRC Global Standard for Agents and Brokers