Food Industry Forces Unite to Improve Safety Standards, Consumer Confidence

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) announced a major new strategic alliance with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) to share best food safety practices and the use of common food safety standards worldwide. NRA is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which is comprised of 945,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 13.1 million employees. GFSI, managed by CIES - The Food Business Forum, develops food safety management schemes adopted internationally. Through the alliance, the groups say they will now work closely together "with one voice" toward shared goals of strengthening food safety systems and increasing consumer confidence.

NRA and GFSI say they will achieve their shared goals by maintaining a benchmarking process for food safety management schemes and improving cost efficiency throughout the food supply chain through the common acceptance of GFSI recognized standards around the world. The alliance will provide a unique international stakeholder platform for networking, knowledge exchange, and sharing of best food safety practice and information, they say. As an example of the convergence, Cindy Jiang, director of Worldwide Quality, Food Safety, and Nutrition for McDonald's Corp., is joining the GFSI board of directors and will also participate at the Technical Committee level.

"Through this alliance, we are well on track to achieving the GFSI goal of developing and maintaining one common framework of internationally recognized standards," said GFSI Chairman Roland Vaxelaire, director of Risk, Responsibility and Quality for the Carrefour Group. "This will go a long way to helping to provide consistent products which are safe for both the retail and foodservice sector customers worldwide."

NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeney added, "Food safety is one of the restaurant industry's highest priorities, and we believe the goals and objectives of the Global Food Safety Initiative provides a consistent framework to strengthen food safety systems along the foodservice supply chain and increase consumer confidence." GFSI continues to grow in importance in the world of food safety internationally, with the alignment in 2007 of four major food safety management schemes with its Guidance Document (BRC, Dutch HACCP, IFS, and SQF) and the common acceptance of these standards by seven major international retailers (Carrefour, Delhaize, Metro, Migros, Royal Ahold, Tesco, and Wal-Mart), NRA noted.

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