LRQA sees the appetite for food safety in Japan at GFSI event in Tokyo

Food Safety is a hot topic in Asia. On October 30th, Cor Groenveld, Global Head of Food Supply Chain Services at Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) attended the 5th edition of the annual Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Food Safety Day in Tokyo, which was sponsored by LRQA Japan. Here he shares his views on what was a very informative session.

“What a well-attended event. There were over 300 delegates representing 135 organisations spanning all major food safety stakeholders including manufacturers, retailers, food service, authorities, universities and certification bodies. LRQA Japan was one of the sponsors of this event and had a booth on the exhibition floor which attracted a lot of interest.

The day included presentations from well-known international and national companies including Coca Cola, Danone, Aeon (one of the largest Japanese retailers), Nihon Shokken and Nippon Meat Packers (manufacturers), Gyouza No Mansyu (restaurant chain) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Consumer Affairs Agency.

As Chairman of the Foundation for Food Safety Certification, I was delighted to be asked to represent FSSC 22000 in a panel discussion where 3 of the 9 GFSI recognised schemes (FSSC, SQF and GlobalGap) explained their certification schemes and discussed some of the key issues facing the industry such as auditor competency, the benefits of FSSC management system certification approach and possible ways of collaboration between the private and public sector.

The session also attracted a question on the reason why ISO 22000 is used in the FSSC scheme. The fact that ISO 22000 is an international, independent standard, has a management system structure and has the commitment from large international manufactures like Cargill, Coca Cola, Nestlé, Kraft and Unilever was given as the most important reason. At the moment there are 20.000 ISO 22000 certificates worldwide and since its launch some two years ago, the number of FSSC certificates has grown very rapidly to almost 3000 and that number is continuing to rise.

The event was very successful and during the day, many important food safety issues were addressed;

  • In the opening speech Yves Rey (Danone and Chairman of the GFSI Board of Directors) and Cenk Gurol (Aeon and Vice Chair of the GFSI Board of Directors) addressed the importance of collaboration of all stakeholders in the food supply chain, especially between the private and public sector. They also showed that the confidence of consumers in the safety of food still needs to be improved.

  • Another topic was the success of the local GFSI group in Japan. It has already 50 members and is very active in the local promotion of GFSI and LRQA Japan is member of the communication working group.

  • The GFSI group is also translating GFSI documents like the Guidance Document and the Global Market Capacity building program, a system in which food companies can reach GFSI recognised certification level in 2 years. The translation of this program is expected to be available end of this year. GFSI wants to copy the success of the Japanese local group to other countries like China and in Latin America and Africa.

Another very interesting presentation came from Mark Cwikowski from Coca Cola. He presented the GFSI Global Market Capacity program. With this programme food companies can reach GFSI recognised certification level in 2 years by having first a basis audit, then after a year an intermediate audit, and after another year the final certification audit against one of the GFSI recognised standards. It was clear that there is a lot of interest in this program and LRQA plans to be ready to deliver this in the beginning of 2013.

The presentation from Nihon Shokken (seasoning manufacturer) explained how they achieved FSSC certification from LRQA Japan for all of their sites in Japan. They showed how they developed their management systems which started with quality management standard ISO 9001 that led them to an integrated Food Safety and Quality system and how LRQA Japan played a very important role in supporting them in this journey.

The GFSI Japan Food Safety Day 2012 was a very successful event that provided useful information and showed the commitment in Japan for having robust food safety management systems and in third party certification.

To view Cor’s recent food presentation in Asia click here