Barilla and LRQA share Certification Journey at GFSI Global Conference

Barilla, the world’s undisputed number one pasta brand and LRQA told the story of their food safety certification journey to a standing room only crowd at the 2014 Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Global Conference in Anaheim, California. Giorgio Beltrami, Barilla’s Quality and Food Safety Director, Cor Groenveld, LRQA’s Global Head of Food Supply Chain Services, Andrew Smith, LRQA’s new Senior VP for Food Services and Vel Pillay, Manager, Food Services, LRQA Americas shared the stage. Together, they offered the audience a live case study, insight into the Barilla decision making process and robust certification body selection process, detailed the LRQA auditor competency framework and assessment methodology and answered a wide range of questions during a lively and informative question and answer session that followed the presentations.
 
Andrew moderated the session, opening with a show of hands as to which audience members had been associated with the GFSI and their annual conferences the longest. The result was that as the years rolled back, fewer and fewer hands were left in the air. When Andrew finally got back to attendees at the GFSI’s initial conference back in 2001 in Geneva, it was only Cor and Giorgio whose hands were still up. Their initial meeting 13 years ago was the beginning of a journey that resulted in LRQA becoming Barilla’s exclusive certification services provider across Europe in 2013.
 
Giorgio then took the audience through Barilla’s food safety history, from HACCP and IFS in the 1990’s through to their 2011 decision to pursue FSSC 22000, the global management systems certification scheme, across their European facilities. He provided fascinating insight into the thorough certification body selection process, including auditor competency requirements, the role of internal audits in the process and the impact that FSSC 22000 certification and working with LRQA is having on Barilla as an organisation.
 
Cor then took to the stage, talking about auditor training, auditor calibration and the importance of sector specific assessors in delivering assessments that add value to the organisation being assessed. He also echoed Giorgio’s comments that the actual certificate, while a desired outcome of the assessment process, is not the most important result. As Cor has done in over 100 global food safety presentations over the last decade, he made sure that humour and tangible examples that the audience could relate to were constant elements of his 20 minutes in front of the crowd.
 
It was at this point that Andrew opened the Q and A session, first bringing Vel Pillay up on stage to join Cor, Giorgio and Andrew. Questions from global organisations Metro (Germany), Con Agra (USA) and Arla Dairy (Denmark) were among the highlights, with all four panellists answering a range of questions that included conflict of interest, the debate over competing food safety schemes and the GFSI’s Global Markets Programme.
 
In the end, the almost 200 attendees all stayed until the very end of the one hour session, with about 10 people lining up immediately after the Q and A to carry on the discussion with Cor, Vel and Giorgio. It was a fitting end to a session that went against the trend of speakers having to compete with laptops, tablets and phones for the audience’s attention. Audience engagement and participation were a constant feature throughout the 60 minutes, a testament to the fact that even when the world is at your fingertips, valuable, relevant content is still king.
 
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