Q&A: Making Food Safe Around The World

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) has created a guidance featuring common criteria for food standards to make food safety compliance easier for the food industry. Food Manufacturing spoke with Zia Siddiqi of Orkin about GFSI and its pest control standards.

Q: How does the Global Food Safety Initiative work?

A: Following numerous food safety scares around the world, GFSI was created in May 2000 as a non-profit foundation focused on tackling international food safety issues. Its mission: Provide continuous improvement in food safety management systems to ensure confidence in the delivery of safe food to consumers worldwide.

In collaboration with the world's leading food safety experts from retail, manufacturing and foodservice companies, the foundation works to achieve its mission by benchmarking existing food standards against wide-scale food safety criteria, improving operational efficiency in the food system and raising public awareness about food safety practices.

Q: How does GFSI compare with other third party audits?

A: GFSI is not a standard in itself, like some of the third party audit food safety programs you may be familiar with such as BRC or SQF. GFSI does not coordinate or undertake any accreditation or certification activities.

Instead, GFSI created a “Guidance Document” which contains commonly agreed-upon criteria for food standards, against which any food standard can be benchmarked. In short, an organization may comply with GFSI specifications in the United States if they adhere to one of the following four standards:

  1. International Featured Standards (IFS), which is owned by German and French entities, and was developed for all types of retailers and for wholesalers with similar activities (www.food-care.info)
  2. Dutch Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) standards (www.foodsafetymanagement.info)
  3. Safe Quality Food (SQF) 2000-Level 3 standards, which are managed by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and approve third-party auditors to perform certification audits (www.sqfi.com)
  4. British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety, which is owned by the BRC—an equivalent to the U.S.’s FMI—and also approves third-party auditors to perform certification audits (www.brc.org.uk)

In other words, while you can’t get certified “GFSI,” you can get certified for a food safety quality standard approved by the GFSI organization (i.e. IFS, SQF, BRC, etc.).

Q: What are the pest control standards of the GFSI?

A: GFSI’s “Guidance Document” outlines the following recommended standard:

6.2.15. Pest Control – A system shall be in place for controlling or eliminating the risk of pest infestation on the site or facilities.

Depending on which GFSI standard you follow, more detailed information is available through each respective standard.

Q: What are the specific demands of pest control in food facilities?

A:  Pests are often attracted to food facilities because food, water and shelter are readily available. That’s why successful pest control starts with the facility’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. An IPM approach focuses on proactive, preventive measures, thereby limiting conditions conducive to pest infestations and reducing the need for chemical pesticides.

The essential components of an IPM program include close collaboration with your pest management professional, continuous facility maintenance, stringent sanitation practices and ongoing staff training.

Q: If a pest has been found in a facility, what should be done?

A: If a pest is found, document the type of pest, if known, and where it was located. Call your pest management professional immediately to report the sighting. Good documentation will help your pest management professional identify the pest, and take corrective and preventive action quickly. 

Q: How can food manufacturers keep pests from entering a facility in the first place?

A: To keep pests out of your facility, you should work with your pest management professional to reduce their access to water, food and shelter. Below are a few basic IPM tips:

  1. Inspect for potential pest breeding sites in and around your building. Decaying matter, stagnant water, landscaping and garbage collection areas can all be powerful attractants. Work with your maintenance team to correct any issues.
  2. Employ sanitation practices. Place dumpsters as far away from your building as possible and work with your waste management company on a cleaning and rotating schedule. Inside, use an organic cleaner to remove grimy buildup from drains and other hard to clean areas, and remove food sources (e.g. exposed product, spills, etc.) wherever possible.
  3. Incorporate exclusion methods. Caulk any cracks or crevices around your building. Ensure doors and windows close tightly and are sealed with weather stripping. Where appropriate, install door sweeps, air curtains, and incorporate copper mesh where necessary to keep pests and rodents out.

Dr. Zia Siddiqi is Director of Quality Systems for Orkin. A board certified entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, Dr. Siddiqi is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. For more information, e-mail zsiddiqi@rollins.com or visit OrkinCommercial.com.

Interview By Lindsey Coblentz, Associate Editor