Dr. Jacqueline Southee, U.S. Liaison for FSSC 22000

“Make Consumer Safety and Food Safety a Hard Priority”

By Sangita Viswanathan
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Dr. Jacqueline Southee, U.S. Liaison for FSSC 22000

In this interview, FSSC 22000’s Dr. Jacqueline Southee talks about what’s new for the scheme, what changes are expected in 2015 and beyond, how these changes will affect you, and why it’s important to embrace these changes to be better prepared for upcoming food safety regulations such as FSMA.

On September 26, Dr. Jacqueline Southee, U.S. Liaison for FSSC 22000, will present FSSC 22000 – The Road Ahead, as part of the 2014 GFSI Leadership Webcast Series presented by SafetyChain Software and FoodSafetyTech.

Dr. Southee will talk about what’s new for the scheme, what changes are expected in 2015 and beyond, how these changes will affect you, and why it’s important to embrace these changes to be better prepared for upcoming food safety regulations such as FSMA. In this interview with Food Safety Tech’s Sangita Viswanathan, Dr. Southee discusses some of the topics that will be examined in more depth during the webinar – including FSSC 22000’s international food safety management certification scheme and its global integrity program.

Food Safety Tech (FST): We’re very excited to have you participate in the GFSI Leadership Webcast Series. What will you be talking about in terms of current changes with FSSC 22000?

Dr. Southee: The most striking change that FSSC 22000 is undergoing revolves around the rapid uptake of the scheme by industry and the increase in the number of certified sites which currently stand at more than 8000. This represents a 48 percent increase since mid-2013. The standard is currently operating in 146 countries, and has become a truly global scheme. We are also working to extend the scope in line with the GFSI goal to cover the entire supply chain. For instance, we have added animal feed to our scope, and will soon be adding animal farming. We are constantly making adjustments within the scheme to keep in line with GFSI requirements in terms of maintaining the highest possible scheme integrity. Overall, FSSC 22000 is creating a lot of buzz out there and we continue to work to meet the growing needs of the industry.

FST: We know that audits will be a topic of many questions. Is FSSC 22000 planning changes on the way it does audits? What are some of audit-related topics you’ll be addressing in the webinar?

FSSC 22000 LogoDr. Southee: FSSC 22000 does not do audits itself. It oversees the FSSC 22000 scheme which provides the specifications for the audit which is conducted by a qualified Certification Body. We work with 96 licensed Certification bodies and more than 1500 auditors throughout the world who conduct FSSC 22000 audits. Our goal is to ensure that these audits are conducted consistently and in line with GFSI requirements. We focus on having a global integrity program, and are in regular contact with auditors and Certified Bodies to monitor auditor competence and to ensure that both CB’s and auditors are meeting these requirements. This monitoring may require an increase in the communication that we have with our CB’s and may even result in an increase in the number of visits that we pay to them. The overall goal is to maintain the highest standard of food safety audits for FSSC 22000 certified companies.

FST: You will also be talking about the direction of FSSC 22000 in 2015 and beyond? Is there a “theme” or specific set of business drivers that are driving future changes to FSSC?

Dr. Southee: The main business drivers for FSSC 22000 are increasing transparency across the supply chain, maintaining the highest standard of consistent audits around the globe to promote a continuous improvement in food safety. As a global scheme, we are in a good position to work with many of the world’s leading food manufacturers. We work on ensuring transparency throughout the supply chain to maintain efficiency in the control of food safety, raise the confidence of the customers and the regulators in the third party certification process and to ensure the production of safe food ingredients and products for the consumer.

FST: While we all know change is important, it’s not always easy to get already-burdened food safety organizations to embrace change. What are some of the things we’ll learn in the webinar about why embracing change is critical to the ongoing success of FSSC 22000?

Dr. Southee: The global food manufacturing industry is currently under a tremendous burden with pressures coming from all sides. They must produce safe food efficiently and effectively to meet the demands of the retailers, the regulators and the consumer. What’s more in this truly digital age, where social media drives consumer preference more than anything else, they need to show their commitment to food safety. The new norm is that consumers are “involved” in what they eat. Every step industry takes is scrutinized by everyone with access to the information, and if anything slips out of compliance, it is public knowledge almost within the hour. There’s a constant demand for information, so food manufacturers need to invest in management systems such as FSSC 22000 to manage their food safety effectively, maintain transparency across the industry both for their customers and their consumers and be quick to respond to issues.

FST: We know that you’ll be providing advice on how companies can start today to prepare for tomorrow’s FSSC. Can you tell us some of the topics you’ll be addressing in this part of the webinar?

Dr. Southee: One topic I’ll be addressing is that food safety management should not be considered a cost center. In order to prepare for FSSC 22000, it is critical for senior management within an organization to recognize the need to take responsibility for food safety and that this will involve the need to have a robust food safety management program in place. Many companies now recognize the importance of investing in food safety and this is to the benefit of all. We also hear about the importance of establishing a “food safety culture” and we can talk more about what this means.

FST: It has been said that GFSI certification is a very good start to preparing for FSMA compliance. What are some of the key points you’ll be addressing when it comes to FSMA compliance and FSSC 22000?

Dr. Southee: First of all, I think that the establishment of the GFSI is an example of the food industry already regulating itself. The benchmarking approach has raised the standard of the accredited third party certification process and a company that is certified under a GFSI scheme is already meeting a high standard of food safety. A scheme such as FSSC 22000 provides additional evidence of a company’s commitment to food safety practices and management. The FSSC 22000 scheme meets many of requirements specified by the initial draft of the FSMA rules and existing data suggests that GFSI certification is a very important start to ensuring compliance with FSMA requirements.

To learn more about all of these and many more topics on FSSC 22000 – including live questions from the audience – register today for FSSC 22000 – The Road Ahead, Friday, September 26, with Dr. Jaqueline Southee.

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