Challenges to Managing a Robust GFSI Program

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Jennifer Kinion
Contributing Writer

#2 in a series of posts about leveraging technology innovations to manage robust GFSI programs—and being audit-ready on demand. In this post, we explore the challenges to managing GFSI programs.

When it comes to managing a robust, comprehensive GFSI program, the challenges fall into the following five categories:

#1 Mountains of Paper

Managing any food safety programlet alone a comprehensive GFSI scheme, with “spreadsheets and binders” brings with it an entire set of challenges, including:

  • Problems insuring that the most up-to-date forms are being used for activities such as direct observation inspections.

  • Paper records are error prone, often resulting in missing, incomplete records which can lead to audit deductions.

#2 Scheduling and Monitoring of Required Activities

Every component of a GFSI program must be documented and monitored. As with all food safety programs, this brings challenges in terms of ensuring that:

  • HACCP (and HARPC with FSMA) plans, Prerequisite Programs (PRPs), Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are scheduled and completed to specification.

  • Non-conformances are reported in a timely manner so that Corrective/Preventive Actions (CAPAs) can be put in place.

#3 Continuous Improvement

Performance trending for continuous improvement is a critical component of GFSI standards. But it is extremely time-consuming and inefficient to accomplish this without a central repository of up-to-date FSQA data. And this hold true not only for paper-based systems, but for some electronic systems as well. Even when records are kept electronicallymost companies have multiple systems that do not integrate or “speak” to each othercreating the same set of challenges. Remember, just because something is electronic doesn’t mean it is automated for effective trending and performance analyses.

#4 Audit Readiness

Being audit-ready is more than just producing documentationwhich in itself is time consuming and disruptive to daily operations. But true audit readiness means making sure you pass your auditswhich is a sum of managing all of the other challenges above!

#5 Approved Vendor Programs

Managing suppliers has always been a resource-intensive challenge. And GFSI standards for monitoring suppliers and ensuring that they are following your safety and quality requirements can make it even more complex.

To sum up these GFSI program management challenges, the word “more” comes to mind. We hear that word a lot in the FSQA world. More regulatory requirements. More third party requirements. More customer requirements. More audits. In fact, the only thing that FSQA teams aren’t getting more of is staffing to handle the load. Which brings up the need to “do more with less.” Sound familiar?

And having to “do more with less,” of course, is where leveraging technology comes in!

Companies deploy technology to automate a variety of functions in order to save time, save money, and create efficienciesin other words, to do more with less. And now safety and quality organizations in food and beverages companies of all sizes are learning that the same benefits can be realized with FSQA technology solutions. This is particularly true when it comes to managing GFSI standards and of course all of the FSQA plans and programs on which they’re based.

One of the reasons why a food safety and quality management solution is ideal for GFSI automation is that these solutions cover multiple aspects of food safety plans and programs for a comprehensive vs. piecemeal approach.

In our next post, we'll review how a comprehensive food safety and quality management solution works. Check in next week!