The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) has released the first edition of its Food Safety Auditor Competencies on the GFSI website (www.mygfsi.com), which is available for download by any interested stakeholders. The framework was developed over three years by the multidisciplinary GFSI auditor competence working group, which was mandated by the GFSI board to define generic food-safety auditor competencies underpinning GFSI benchmarked schemes, and the mechanisms by which they can be assessed and verified.
The competency framework comprises a list of agreed generic knowledge and skill components that can be applied across all post farm-gate GFSI benchmarked schemes. The framework will be re-released in early 2014 to include competencies for the pre-farm-gate sector. Further competencies will be added as other sector-specific GFSI Technical Working groups (the Food Broker/Agents Working Group, the Retail/Wholesale Working Group and others) draft the requirements for their particular industry scopes.
The competencies were validated using a professional testing organization, says the GFSI, and revised based on the outcomes of that study in early 2013. They have also been compared for alignment with the competencies outlined in ISO/DTS 22003 (as of July 2013) and with those being developed by other international organizations for use by regulatory and commercial food-safety auditors.
GFSI says it encourages use of the competencies and review by all sectors of the food industry, public and private, and welcomes feedback on the adequacy and effectiveness of the framework. The GFSI Auditor competence scheme committee (formerly the auditor competence working group) is now developing examination and assessment methodologies as well as a credentialing model for auditors of GFSI benchmarked schemes.
Bill McBride, chair of the GFSI auditor competence scheme committee and managing director, Foodlink Management Services, comments that “as GFSI benchmarked schemes have increased in number and international coverage, the integrity of the audit process and the competence of those conducting the audits has become increasingly important. GFSI is working toward a model that can be applied across all food industry sectors that provides a rigor to the auditor qualification process and a professional pathway for aspiring auditors. This is the first part of that process.”