Eeny Meeny Miny Moe – Which Food Safety System Standard do you choose…

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe – Which Food Safety System Standard do you choose…

Hello and Hi from the Food Bites team,

Please tell us the sun is shining and Summer is on its way…  We need some vitamin D in our lives!

This week we have decided to provide some guidance on how to choose the right food safety certification standard for YOUR organisation.  There are so many to choose from and although organisations are often guided (”bullied”) into implementing a standard very often stipulated by a customer, it may help to know that there could be other, more important facts driving this decision.

The most important consideration is to know and understand the strategic direction of your organisation.  If you are only supplying the local market, simply meeting a local retail requirement will be sufficient BUT if you have plans to enter the export market, the chances are very good that a local retail standard will not be sufficient.  Our experience shows that most international markets and retailers will only accept a GFSI-recognised certification.  (More about The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) in next week’s edition).

Obviously “the customer is king” and the choice of standard must consider the requirements of specific customers.  This may be linked to a specific country, retailer, or multi-national organisation.  But what if you have different customers, each with their own set of unique demands?  We know that the food industry is an extremely competitive environment and each customer has their own set of standards that need to be met.  Our advice is always to adopt an integrated approach.  This means incorporating the requirements of the Standard(s) of choice together with specific customer requirements and always applying the strictest.  That way everyone will be happy!

If your clients are a little more flexible and have allowed you to choose the certification Standard of your choice, it is important to research the various options to make an informed decision.    There are so many Standards to choose from; some are local and others internationally recognised; some are GFSI-benchmarked, and some not.

International or GFSI-benchmarked standards are not only an option for those companies who export, but also for those who do not.  There is a misconception in the food industry that many South African companies are not ready to be certified to international standards or that they are too small.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It takes the same effort, resources and time to implement an effective food safety management system; irrespective of whether it is a local or internationally recognised standard.

We suppose one could say that selecting the Standard you want to implement is the easy part – what follows is what we would call a “journey to certification”.  Implementing a food safety or quality management system is a lot like running a marathon – you have to know the route; running off in the wrong direction could cost you precious time and you could forfeit your prize.  In much the same way, implementing one standard and then switching to another one halfway through the process comes at a cost – choose wisely!

Now that’s a mouthful!  If you need more information about the different food safety standard certification options out there, why not pop us an e-mail ( or hop over to our website (  You can even chat to us directly on our webchat platform while you are browsing our various training courses…  Progress Excellence offers training on both locally and internationally recognised food safety programmes – how can we help?

Until next week, take care!  Stay safe and keep smiling…

From the Food Bites Team