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What is the GFSI Global Markets Programme (GMaP)? – Basic and Intermediate Explained

We received many queries during the past year from small food business owners who would like to sell their products to retailers in South Africa and therefore need to implement a Food Safety Management System.

Small food businesses don’t always have the resources (time, money and human resources) to implement and get certification against the more robust Food Safety Management Systems like ISO 22000, FSSC 22000, BRCGS, etc. This is where the GFSI Global Markets Programme (GMaP) tool comes in handy.

It helps small food business owners to start implementing a resource-friendly FSMS that is acceptable to many retailers in South Africa. After implementation, the food business can then request for an assessment against the GMaP criteria from a recognised auditing company.

The Objective of GFSI GMaP and How It Can Help SMEs

In 2008 GFSI introduced a voluntary capacity-building tool (CBT) known as the Global Markets Programme (GMaP) mainly for food businesses that have limited resources and “amateur” Food Safety Systems to prepare them towards a GFSI’s benchmarked accredited Food Safety certification system.

Consequently, GFSI’s GMaP is intended to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the food industry to comply with some of the most widely requested GFSI benchmarked Food Safety standards such as GLOBALG.A.P., FSSC 22000, BRCGS, IFS and SQF (to name a few).

The GMaP was developed by food industry bodies such as retailers, brand manufacturers in collaboration with the United Nations’ Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and International Finance Corporation who played a significant role in funding the training and mentoring programmes.

Since GMaP is an open-source programme, stakeholders like Food businesses, certification programme owners (BRCGS, FSSC 22000, IFS, etc), Certification Bodies (SGS, Control Union, IFS, etc) and Food Industry bodies are usually invited to participate in the consultation sessions which are aimed to improve and revise the GMaP to meet customer demands.

FSMS Assessment Tool Accepted by Leading Retailers

It is important for food businesses to understand that GFSI’s GMaP is a voluntary, open-source system designed as an unaccredited, noncertification assessment process to determine an organisation’s readiness to implement an accredited GFSI benchmarked Food Safety Management System (for example, BRCGS, FSSC 22000, etc.) also known as GFSI Schemes.

Although GMaP’s are voluntary assessments, they have now turned out to be a minimum standard requirement by most of South Africa’s leading supermarkets and other retailers to ensure the safety and quality of food.

Who is the GFSI Global Markets Programme Applicable to?

GMaP is available for both primary production (farming) and food manufacturing. Below are some examples of sectors in the food industry which can use the GMaP tool to kickstart or improve their FSMS:

  • Food manufacturing and processing
  • Catering
  • Retail / Wholesale
  • Farming of Animals for Meat/Milk/Eggs/Honey
  • Farming of Fish and Seafood
  • Farming of Plants (other than grains and pulses)
  • Farming of Grains and Pulses
  • Pre-process Handling of Plant Products
  • Animal Primary Conversion
  • Processing of Perishable Animal Products Processing of Perishable Plant Products
  • Processing of Perishable Animal and Plant Products (Mixed Products)
  • Processing of Ambient Stable Animal and Plant Products (Mixed Products)
  • Production of Feed
  • Food Broker/Agent
  • Provision of Food Safety Services
  • Provision of Storage and Distribution Services
  • Production of Food Packaging
  • Hygienic Design of Food Buildings and Processing Equipment (Building Constructors and Equipment Manufacturers)
  • Hygienic Design of Food Buildings and Processing Equipment (Building & Equipment Users)
  • Production of (Bio) chemicals and Bio-cultures Used as Food Ingredients or Processing Aids in Food Production

Understanding the Difference between the GFSI GMaP Basic and Intermediate

GFSI GMaP has two assessment tools available against which a food business’ FSMS can be assessed:

  • GMaP basic level
  • GMaP intermediate level

Each level indicates the percentage of progress a food handling organisation’s FSMS will make towards a GFSI recognised certification scheme, as well as the requirements for a successful assessment outcome.

A. Progress Towards GFSI Recognised Scheme Certification

Essentially, when a Food Handling Organisation passes its GFSI GmaP assessment it will be able to ascertain its progress towards a GFSI benchmarked scheme by either:

  • 35% in the case of GFSI GmaP basic level assessment, or
  • 65% in the case of GFSI GmaP intermediate level assessment.

This is applicable to both food manufacturing and primary production (farm level).

B. Requirements for Basic and Intermediate Level

Referring to the image below, you will notice that each level’s requirements are divided into 3 sections:

  • A – Requirements for the Food Safety Management System
  • B – Requirements for Good Manufacturing Practices
  • C – Requirements for the Control of Food Hazards

There are two key structural differences when it comes to the GMaP basic and intermediate assessment requirements.

One is under the requirements of the Food Safety Management System and the other is under the control of Food Hazards. Fundamentally, any FHO needs to have fully implemented GMPs as they form a foundation for any successful FSMS.

The Basic Level assessment requirements contain the most basic Food Safety Management System and identification and control of Food Safety hazards.

On the other hand, the Intermediate Level assessment requirements entail complying with a more extensive FSMS (A) such as product analysis, purchasing of external products and supplier approval and performance monitoring.

Additionally, the GMaP Intermediate Level assessment also requires food handling organisations to have a fully functional Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)(C) system in place, as well as Food Defence mitigation strategies to be implemented.

The following table shows the key differences between the GMaP basic and intermediate assessment level requirements:

Please note the intermediate-level requirements also includes all of the basic-level requirements. If a requirement below has the same topic (for example traceability), it means there are additional requirements for the intermediate level. These differences are noticeable on the GFSI GMaP assessment checklist.

Benefits of GFSI GMaP

There are numerous benefits of implementing GFSI’s GMaP and the following are examples of such benefits:

National and International Regulatory Compliance

One of the requirements stipulated on both GMaP’s basic and intermediate assessments is evidence that senior management is committed to developing, maintaining and continuously improving the food safety system.

This management responsibility is demonstrated by FHO’s implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) such as trained and competent food handlers, pest control systems, personal hygiene, waste management and calibration of equipment to name a few, which are prescribed by Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Premises, Transportation of Food and Related Matter R638: 2018, clause 10 titled “Duties of a person in charge”.

Increase Profitability

This work gives smaller companies a way to start meeting the requirements of their customers, gain new customers and supply safe food to local and global markets. Meanwhile, it enhances companies’ compliance with national and international regulatory frameworks such as CODEX while improving food safety culture and practices across geographies. It is truly a win-win for suppliers, buyers, government and above all, consumers.

Enhances Food Safety

GMaP Intermediate requires FHO to have both GMPs and HACCP implemented to fully comply with its requirements. HACCP plays an indispensable role in preventing, eliminating and reducing food safety hazards to an acceptable level. Sometimes it is completely impossible to eliminate food hazards like the availability of heavy metals in potable water, although they can be reduced to a level where their presence will not have any significant health impacts on consumers.

Conclusion

The GFSI GMaP is a very handy tool that can help SMEs to implement a resource-friendly FSMS and pave the road towards customer acceptance and certification against any one of the GFSI-recognised schemes.

Although widely accepted by some of South Africa’s leading retail supermarkets, GMaP basic and intermediate must not be regarded as accredited certification systems but only an assessment criteria to evaluate a food handling organisation’s compliance towards an accredited GFSI certification system such as FSSC 22000, BRCGS, GLOBALG.A.P and IFS.

Furthermore, the notable key difference between the two GMaP assessments is that GMaP basic ultimately means an FHO has implemented at least 35% while GMaP intermediate means 65% of a GFSI benchmarked scheme has been implemented by an FHO.

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