Washington, DC - November 17, 2000 - The Global Food Safety Initiative, a network of food safety experts from retail companies and their trade associations worldwide, has announced an update of its strategic work plan to develop criteria for global food safety standards. The Initiative now includes more than 30 members from the retail industry.

The Initiative's Food Safety Task Force, coordinated by CIES-The Food Business Forum, is charged with the development of the work plan. It is partnering with leading international trade associations, including the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and AGWest, Australia.

The Task Force is developing standards to enhance the retailer's role in food safety, ensure consumer protections, maintain consumer confidence, and position retailers at the forefront of communication on food safety issues.

Four objectives have been identified by the Task Force. They are:

  • Establishing criteria for global food safety standards for suppliers and supplier audits;
  • Developing rapid alert systems;
  • Encouraging worldwide government cooperation; and
  • Promoting consumer education.

The first objective will be to develop criteria that will be used to evaluate food safety
standards. These criteria, and the global standards that will evolve, will provide retailers
with the assurance that they are purchasing safe foods for their customers. Supplier audits, performed by accredited third party certifying bodies, will ensure that the standards are being met.

Other task force objectives will be to develop a rapid alert system to provide retailers with timely and accurate information about food safety crises and events globally; establish contacts with international government authorities to strengthen relationships; and develop a universally recognized consumer education program.

When the initial criteria are ready for review, manufacturers and suppliers will be encouraged to join the Task Force and work with retailers to create the final standards.