LRQA Global Food Safety Conference Blog Series: The assurance options for driving food safety

Hundreds of food safety specialists from across the world will be gathering in Kuala Lumpur between 3-5 March for the GFSI Global Food Safety Conference.  LRQA will be both exhibiting and presenting at this key event.  Here, LRQA’s Global Head of Food Supply Chain Services, Cor Groenveld, shares his views on the additional assurance options available to help drive food safety

“I think the days whereby organisations only needed a certificate are fading into the past. Of course, it is vitally important; it shows that an organisation meets the requirements of the standard or scheme, requirements that we certify against when they meet them. But more can be done.

What we are seeing and what we have done already with a large number of organisations is that service providers like LRQA can give much more support to organisations – like farm to fork assurance and training so to speak. Training is one of the most important starting points for organisations who are developing food safety management systems, but also for organisations that have existing systems in place but are aiming to continuously improve. So training is of key importance.

Secondly, using the data that is collected by audits can drive food safety. Through analysis, it can highlight to organisations their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, challenges and threats. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small organisation with one site, or it’s a huge international organisation with perhaps 100 or 300 sites. That data is very, very important to the analysis and helping organisations to improve. So I think data analysis and providing management information to organisations is an important service that can be added on certification.

Another aspect is that when you have larger organisations we have to understand them. We also have to understand their place in the supply chain, so not only looking at the processes that we’re auditing onsite but also looking at their responsibilities, their risks and their hazards upstream and downstream across the supply chain. So our auditors need to understand those risks and they need to also support organisations to challenge them as appropriate.

So I think these are a number of additional services to certification, but you can either look at it from a broader perspective because we are focusing on food safety. And that’s correct because food safety is the number one priority, it’s most important and it will be also in the next decade. It shall always be number one I believe because there is always room to improve on food safety and it’s critical for consumers and users.

Given their complexity, there are always going to be risks in the supply chain and I think another very important role of service providers like certification bodies is that we help organisations to expand their food safety management system, to support with risk based thinking and not only covering food safety risks, but also looking at other important supply chain risks and concerns. Like sustainability, like social responsibility, you can also talk about animal welfare or other specific concerns in the food supply chain.

Finally, and one of the most important aspects is that the challenge of globalisation coupled with a dependency on supply chains which can often span multiple countries and continents presents a significant element of risk to any organisation.

Worldwide, organisations are increasingly turning to bespoke solutions to further enhance the level of assurance of their global operations, known as customised, second party supply chain solutions.

LRQA provides second-party supply chain services to any organisation – irrespective of their size, sector or geographical location. Our tailored client-specific assessment solutions give an additional level of assurance over and above their certified management system(s). This approach provides our clients with the confidence that organisations serving their supply chain are consistently operating to their own high specifications.

LRQA’s management systems experience means that we have an established global network of qualified assessors with sector specific experience to meet the needs of organisations worldwide. As part of Lloyd’s Register, LRQA has unparalleled access to resources, thereby enabling us to undertake any type of inspection, surveillance, verification or audit service to address specific requirements or regulatory codes in most industry areas.”

Cor Groenveld is Global Head of Food Supply Chain Services and Chairman of the Board for the Foundation for Food Safety Certification

For more information on our food safety and supply chain services, email enquiries@lrqa.com