Is food safety auditing about safety or money? GFSI-light?

Irwin Pronk of HACCP By Design (right, pretty much as shown) writes in this contributed piece:

If you are a food processor or retailer and have been insisting that your suppliers become GFSI compliant (Global Food Safety Initiative), beware. Recent information has shown that some certification bodies (auditing firms) are playing loose and fast and plants have been choosing certification bodies based on price alone, compromising the integrity of audits.

When searching for an auditing firm, plants have been asking for two or three quotes. In providing these quotes, some certification bodies are strictly following the Scheme Holders’ (e.g. SQF, BRC or FS22000) formulae for calculating the number of audit days but other, more principled auditing firms realize these too simple calculations do not leave them sufficient time to audit as they should. Thus they add additional time resulting in a higher price. In evaluating the differing quotes, plant management all too often choose the least expensive option knowing they will save money. More importantly, they realize the less time the auditor has, the fewer non-conformances they will find. The result: GFSI-light.

Some auditing firms are becoming known for their lower cost quotes, and the result is an inadequate audit, inadequate control systems and the risk of a facility, process and product not as effectively managed as the customer had expected.

Some food processors have wisely established a relationship with one certification body, selecting a specific group of auditors, and requiring their suppliers use the approved certification body. These firms are finding more consistent and rigorous audits. Be sure you are getting what you are asking for. Do not risk GFSI-light.

Irwin Pronk has worked with over 300 companies to implement food safety and quality assurance programs over the past 15 years. He lives in Fergus, which is near Guelph (that’s in Canada).?

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time