An Introduction to GFSI Certifications

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is an organization that oversees food production through its certification programs. While it doesn’t conduct inspections, also known as ‘audits’, it does employ individuals and companies like QIMA to complete these audits on members of the food supply chain. The GFSI has created a few different programs (primarily referred to as ‘schemes’) that provide different certifications for various areas of the food production system.

Types of Certifications

–          SQF

–          BRC Global Standards

–          IFS

–          PrimusGFS

–          GlobalG.A.P.

Safe Quality Food (SQF)

This scheme addresses the quality level of food production through all aspects of the food supply chain. Unlike the other schemes, the SQF looks at how safely food products are manufactured in addition to their focus on quality. Some specific areas this scheme addresses include records, monitoring, food safety policy and plans, recalls, available training programs, allergen management (if applicable), the management system, and more.

An SQF certification is useful for:

–          Improving brand image

–          Enhance consumer confidence in a company’s products

–          Promote a fluid production system by identifying and resolving issues

–          Prove adequate compliance with high quality standards

BRC Global Standards (or BRCGS)

BRCGS is centered around food, packaging, storage, and distribution of products in the food industry. Considered one of the most difficult certifications to obtain, this scheme is used globally to create one set of standards to maintain. Members of the supply chain eligible for this type of certification are food production, packaging and processing, and distribution companies. It’s the largest GFSI scheme and also contains several subsections.

International Featured Standards (IFS)

Handling the more technical side of supply chain members, the IFS scheme focuses on producers, logistics, and other companies responsible for the handling and manufacturing of products. A loose combination of SQF and BRCGS, IFS covers both food and non-food products.

Some qualifications for achieving this certification are:

–          Having a management plan that covers all aspects of food safety and quality

–          Maintain high standards to produce consumer-safe products

–          Have decreasing numbers of recalls and quality rejections

–          Be compliant with GFSI food safety requirements


Covering the produce section of the food supply chain, the PrimusGFS scheme looks at Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and Food Safety Management Systems. The PrimusGFS scheme contains seven sections for different aspects of produce production. On top of general necessary qualifications, to obtain this certification a company must also meet GAP and GMP standards.

Businesses in this scheme include:

–          Farmers

–          Greenhouses (indoor agriculture)

–          Produce storage/distribution, including cold storage

–          Packaging

–          Harvesters

–          Processing plants


The Global Good Agricultural Practice (GlobalG.A.P.) concerns food suppliers, specifically farmers. To receive this certification, companies must meet Control Points and Compliance Criteria (CPCC). However, once obtained, their products can be sold on a local or global scale.

Production areas under this scheme are:

–          Fruits and vegetables

–          Poultry

–          Feed Manufacturing

–          Workers (safety, welfare, health)

–          Produce Handling

–          Hop

Why You Should Get a GFSI Certification

Due to the standards outlined under these schemes and the GFSI, food quality and safety are held to a higher degree. This means having a GFSI certification indicates your business maintains these elevated standards, leading to a higher rate of consumer satisfaction. 

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