On April 28, 2020, GFSI announced proposed amendments to their Benchmarking Requirements, which would utilize information and communication technologies (ICT) for certain aspects of the auditing process to be conducted remotely, leading to faster certification amidst COVID-19 delays. Vote today!
GFSI has invited “public stakeholders” — a loosely defined term, which we believe includes all who are certified under any GFSI program and all Certification Bodies to participate by voting on this proposal. To begin, please download the consultation documents available here and submit your response to firstname.lastname@example.org before May 4th, 2020.
The ICT/Remote Auditing Proposal Covers Several Key Elements:
- If a certification program owner (CPO) wants to take advantage of ICT, they will ensure that the current version of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF MD4), is included as a normative reference for their certification program(s).
- The CPO will not conduct witness audits, a key part of initial auditor qualification, remotely.
- The CPO can select which portions of the audit will be conducted remotely, pending mutual agreement with the company.
- At least a portion of the annual full audit must be conducted on site, with the exception of FII-Broker audits.
- The CPO will determine the maximum period of time between the start and end of auditing activities.
- The CPO must verify that the company implements corrective action plans. Verification of corrective actions could consist of additional onsite assessment or inspection of evidence submitted via ICT.
GFSI’s decision to consider allowing part of its certification audits to be conducted remotely is certainly timely, considering the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on food manufacturers. Following the recommended social distancing measures, including restricting visitors to facilities is critical to maintaining a healthy workforce, and thus, helps ensure the food supply is replenished consistently.
Whenever possible, audits shouldn’t be postponed. During these times of uncertainty, it’s just as important as ever – if not more so – that the public has access to safe food. Delaying an audit presents risks such as safety gaps and certification lapses, which could lead to food-borne illnesses that further strain healthcare systems, tarnish brands, and cause businesses to lose customers in this already volatile time.
Allowing part of the audit process to be conducted remotely will help food and beverage manufacturers to continue prioritizing food safety while adhering to new, COVID-imposed employee safety measures.
Maintaining the same standard of food safety in the wake of COVID-19 requires adaptation, not compromise. We encourage you to support GFSI’s proposal to allow a large part of your audits to be conducted remotely! Please download the consultation documents and follow the instructions listed here to share your input.
Webinar Explaining Remote Certification Audits
Wonder how remote audits work? Watch our webinar replay: Remote Audits: Adapt and Advance with Digital Certification.