Anchoring the integrity of GMP+ FSA
All company audits for GMP+ Feed Safety Assurance (GMP+ FSA) are carried out by independent Certification Bodies (CB’s), that are accepted by GMP+ International. With 33 CB’s and about 372 GMP+ Auditors all over the world we ensure the integrity of our scheme. Yet third-party certification brings challenges as well.
JOHAN DEN HARTOG
Managing Director, GMP+ International
August 26th, 2019
When GMP+ International was founded back in 1992 (under the name Good Manufacturing Practices, or GMP), we did the auditing ourselves. At the time, that was a no-brainer. GMP was a start-up with only a few dozen certified companies and was created exclusively for the Dutch feed market.
That started to change when our target audience did. Already in 1998, the first German feed companies obtained certifications. Most important was the expansion of the certification scope to include the whole feed supply chain, including transport and storage & transhipment from 2000 onwards when it turned into GMP+ FSA. Due to the worldwide sourcing of feed materials, the interest in our certification was growing. With this international expansion came the realization that we would not be able to continue performing audits with our (then) small, Netherlands-based team.
Separation of powers
There were governance and integrity issues at stake as well. A separation of powers was preferred, because in practice it was complicated to be both the “legislator” as well as the magistrate. We felt strongly that we as the standard-setting body act independently from the auditing process.
In 1999 the first audits were performed by external parties for the German market. Four years later, in 2003, we fully shifted to third-party certification. With their independence and extensive international network, Certification Bodies provide the expertise and efficiency needed to perform this crucial task. The acceptance of 3 new Certification Bodies in 2019 (from India, Poland and Denmark) is a clear signal that awareness and interest around feed safety and GMP+ FSA is still growing.
Integrity of the certification
From the start of the third-party certification, we implemented a policy and programme to secure the integrity of the process. Because having third parties carrying out audits comes with added responsibility for us as well.
This starts with clear rules for certification, with minimum audit time and frequency, classification of non-conformities, etc. Auditor’s qualification and examination of audits by means of regular examination is also an important part of it. On top, we audit the certification process, including the auditors. That means witnessing audits, parallel audits at companies, and organizing yearly office audits at CB’s headquarters.
Like every certification scheme, GMP+ FSA succeeds or fails by its independence and integrity. Certification Bodies safeguard these principles in a way GMP+ International itself would never be able to. Their skill, knowhow and passion gives a vital boost to our goal of Feed Safety Worldwide.