Small supplier special Getting to grips with the CGCSA-GFSI Global markets programme

Small Suppliers

By Linda Jackson on 21 June 2017

The Global Markets Programme, an initiative of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), is a capacity building programme specifically designed for small and/or less developed businesses. This programme was also been adopted by the CGCSA in collaboration with participating South African retailers to accommodate all suppliers. This programme was official launched by the CGCSA-Food Safety initiative last year.


According to the press release from the CGCSA-FSI, the intention is to help suppliers develop effective food safety management systems through a systematic continuous improvement process. The ultimate goal of this programme is to help suppliers gradually reach the level of food safety standards as required by the major buying companies (retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers).


 So how does it work?

Step 1: Contact your retailer to confirm which level assessment you require.

The assessment programme works using the GFSI Basic and Intermediate Level Checklist and CGCSA-GFSI User Guidelines as the basis for the assessment. In other words, this is what you have to comply with for your audit/assessment. The requirements differ so it is imperative you know what is expected. Some retailers will also accept a foundation level for entry purposes such as the NSF Genesis protocol.


Step 2: Conduct a self audit to ensure you meet all the requirements

Assuming you have a functioning food safety management system, conduct a thorough gap assessment of your own system. The checklist defines the criteria and the user guidelines describe the application of the requirements to assist your understanding. Be brutally honest with yourself so there are no unpleasant surprises for you on the real assessment. Conduct this self assessment at least 3 months before the real assessment to give you time for corrective action and records to prove your system is working. You could also employ a consultant to assist you with this. A first time assessment should not be attempted without some guidance. - hyperlink


Step 3: Get some training

If the self assessment highlights items that are not in place or areas where you need clarification, then you would be well advised to get some comprehensive training. Many suppliers underestimate the depth of the assessment even at basic level and are not adequately prepared for the first assessment.


Step 4: Choose the auditing company

You can choose any option to appoint any accredited Certification Body as an Assessment Provider. Only an accredited Certification Body may conduct assessments against the GFSI Global Markets Programme BL/IL Checklist unless otherwise indicated by your retailer. There is usually a 6 week lead time on any assessment so make sure your planning takes this into account.


Step 5: Ensure all staff are prepared for the assessment

The assessment will take the form of a document review and an on-site component. The auditors should interact with staff at all levels to ensure the food safety management system you have documented is in operation every day. Although some preparation is always expected and even recommended don’t get caught up in the clean-up frenzy as window dressing is easy to spot and you are only kidding yourself, not the auditor. What does help is making sure you know where to find all the evidence the auditor will require as you are paying for time on site and the longer it takes you to find things the more it will cost you. A good tip would be to make sure you have all the documentation in one place, if at all possible.


The first assessment can be daunting - but bear in mind it is the worst your food safety management system will be.


Watch out for the next chapter in the series where we go through each requirement and help you get to grips to the requirements. You are welcome to ask questions on our forum so we can help you prepare!


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