Supplier verification activities include auditing a supplier to ensure the supplier is complying with applicable food safety requirements, such as requirements under proposed part 507. Audit activities may include a range of activities, such as on-site examinations of establishments, review of records, review of quality assurance systems, and examination or laboratory testing of product samples (Ref. 16). Other supplier verification activities include conducting testing or requiring supplier certificates of analysis (COAs), review of food safety plans and records, or combinations of activities such as audits and periodic testing.
An increasing number of establishments that sell food are independently requiring, as a condition of doing business, that their suppliers, both foreign and domestic, become certified as meeting safety (as well as other) standards. In addition, domestic and foreign suppliers (such as producers, co-manufacturers, or re-packers) are increasingly looking to third-party certification programs to assist them in meeting U.S. regulatory requirements (Ref. 16). There are many established third-party certification programs designed for various reasons that are currently being used by industry. Many third party audit schemes used to assess the industry's food safety management systems incorporate requirements for manufacturers and processors to establish supplier approval programs. An example of a food safety standard that was specifically developed for the animal food industry is Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 222:2011 (Ref. 1). This standard was developed for the animal food industry by the
To ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food for animals and humans worldwide, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), a benchmarking organization, was established in 2000 to drive continuous improvement in food safety management systems. Their objectives include reducing risk by delivering equivalence and convergence between effective food safety management systems and managing cost in the global food system by eliminating redundancy and improving operational efficiency (Ref. 17). GFSI has developed a guidance document as a tool that fulfills the GFSI objectives of determining equivalency between food safety management systems (Ref. 17). The document is not a food safety standard, but rather specifies a process by which food safety schemes may gain recognition, the requirements to be put in place for a food safety scheme seeking recognition by GFSI, and the key elements for production of safe food or feed, or for service provision (e.g., contract sanitation services or food transportation) in relation to food safety (Ref. 17). This benchmark document has provisions relevant to supplier approval and verification programs. For example, it specifies that a food safety standard must require that the organization control purchasing processes to ensure that all externally sourced materials and services that have an effect on food safety conform to requirements. It also specifies that a food safety standard must require that the organization establish, implement, and maintain procedures for the evaluation, approval and continued monitoring of suppliers that have an effect on food safety. Thus, all current GFSI-recognized schemes require supplier controls to ensure that the raw materials and ingredients that have an impact on food safety conform to specified requirements. The GFSI guidance document also requires audit scheme owners to have a clearly defined and documented audit frequency program, which must ensure a minimum audit frequency of one audit per year of an organization's facility (Ref. 17).
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