Quality Control Systems

Comparing Food Safety Standards

Despite the huge efforts paid by the food safety authorities, experts and industry, food safety remains critical and often is coming into considerations attracting media’s attention with outbreaks that can bring a mass of numerous negative consequences. In order to guarantee health security of food and, in particular, consumers’ health safety, legal regulations as well as new quality norms and standards are constantly expanded. Every food company attempts to manufacture and distribute products that are safe and wholesome for its consumers.

There are lots of different sorts of safety systems and quality management systems in the market, which program are you applying right now in your enterprise and which one do you think you should implement? You might do not know which of them fits best for your needs and what the differences between different systems are.

Among the available Quality Assurance (QA) systems, there are available systems such as GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices), GHPs (Good Hygiene Practices), GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) or other prerequisite systems and HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points). Management systems such as ISO 9000, or integrated Food safety management systems (FSMS) such as ISO 22000:2005 are also accessible for producers.

The Quality Assurance (QA) systems can be classified according to the extent of activities they cover, in:

– Basic safety systems: prerequisites (GMPs, GHPs, GLPs, GAPs, etc.);

– Advanced safety systems such as HACCP;

– Basic quality management systems – ISO 9001;

– Advanced quality management systems – ISO 9004;

– Integrated food safety management systems– ISO 22000, BRC, IFS, BRC, SQF, and FSSC 22000.

Here is a brief description of some of these systems: 

What is the GFSI?

The process towards the ‘food quality management system’ worldwide has gradually established a small number of related standards under the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). GFSI is an independent non-profit foundation of prominent food safety experts and related interests from retail, manufacturing and food service industries worldwide. Co-ordinated by the Consumer Goods Forum, it responded to keen demand for safe food products, increasing food safety problems, lack of agreement on food safety standards and the increasing load of more frequent food safety audits allowed by suppliers and processors.

Which standards are recognized by GFSI?

  • British Retail Consortium (BRC)
  • CanadaGAP
  • Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000
  • Global Aquaculture Alliance Seafood
  • Global Red Meat Standard (GRMS)
  • International Featured Standard (IFS) Version 6.1
  • Japan Food Safety Management Association (JFSM)
  • Japan GAP Foundation
  • PrimusGFS Standard
  • The Safe Quality Food (SQF)


You could check for the most up-to-date list of recognized standards and the scope of each standard here (https://mygfsi.com/how-to-implement/recognition) or download this file to have a summary of all standards.

Among these standards, the most applied schemes for food enterprises include:

  • The British Retail Consortium (BRC)
  • The International Featured Standard (IFS)
  • The Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000
  • The Safe Quality Food (SQF)

Let’s compare these four GFSI approved standards:










FSSC 22000




Quality and food safety


Quality and food safety

Level 2 Food Safety Level 3 Include Quality

(need to conduct food safety analysis, define critical quality control point)


Food Safety




Prescriptive requirements


Prescriptive requirements


Some requirements are prescriptive Require SQF practitioner (full timer)


Provide frame work requirements for the company to demonstrate how to comply and demonstrate their food safety system




By Certification body and Standard owner


By Certification body and Standard owner


Company needs to register in Quick fire prior to certification process


By Certification body and Standard owner




No stage 1 – Company can easily go direct to on site certification audit


No stage 1 – Company can easily go direct to on site certification audit


Stage 1 on site or off site Stage 2 on site


Stage 1 on site Stage 2 on site




Certificate valid for 1 year Grade C-Recertification within 6 months


Certificate valid for 1 year


Certificate valid for 1 year Grade C-Recertification within 6 months


Certificate valid for 3 years




As recertification is depending on the result of the audit (grade C need to be 6 months so interval or integrated condition will be changed depending


Not allow integrated with ISO management system standard, allow integrated with product certification scheme


Different management system structure but possible for integrated audit


Same management system structure as ISO standard so it is easily to integrate with other management

system standards




Same audit time as Certification visit


Same audit time as Certification visit


Same audit time as Stage 2 on site


Less audit time than Stage 2 on site




Not allow to be displayed on the product


Not allow to be displayed on the product


Level 3 certification can use certification mark on the product


Not allow to be displayed on the product

Ref: SGS Global


GFSI itself is not a certification program, nor does it perform certification or accreditation activities. Thus, you’ll first need to determine which system(s) are best for your organization based on the types of activities of your operation. Next, contact the program owner that covers your scope to determine which specific certification program fits your activities.




Honestly, it is not an easy task to find the best standard since each one has its own pros and cons and you should consider many mentioned elements to choose finally the best standard that might be updated, upgraded or changed in the future. Selecting the right standard should be a priority. It’s recommended to consider the following items:

  • Ease of use and suitability of the standard based on your existing food safety and quality systems, and on your company’s culture
  • Specific requirements and structure of the standard
  • How easy it is to understand and meet the requirements
  • Audit rules, costs, frequency and grading system
  • Auditor availability
  • How standards support customer preferences

All GFSI standards request senior management commitment and demand companies to regularly review customer requirements, define processes and validate consistent control over identified hazards, updating and improving the food safety management system to adapt to changes in process, requirements or regulations. The most important thing an organisation should to consider when selecting a GFSI approved food safety standard is making sure there is the perfect match between the standard and the organisation.

Our experts will help you to find the best standard to implement in your enterprise according to your needs, level of safety, related costs, market, and other factors.