The animated video presents two characters, Angie, a manager of a grocery store and mother, and Tim, an assessor at ANSI. While Angie supervises a team of food handlers and buyers, accepts deliveries, and helps customers, she hears that a favorite snack, blueberries, is impacted by a food-borne illness outbreak. Tim offers to explain food safety certification and the role of ANSI accreditation in the process.
As Tim explains, accreditation provides a layer of confidence to the entire food production system. And just like an onion, there are many layers to food safety. Each “layer” adds another dimension of confidence, credibility, and safety to the entire process. At the center of the onion is the “food” itself. This is protected by several layers:
- The first layer of protection comes from the producers of the food, as they are responsible for assuring that their farm, manufacturing facility, suppliers, and distribution systems are safe.
- The next layer is the certifier, also known as audit company. This layer evaluates, and then certifies the producer’s food safety processes, systems, and operations to established food safety standards.
- The final layer of protection is the accreditation body, which serves to review the procedures, processes, and qualifications of the certifier’s personnel, and assess whether or not all the procedures are being followed, and whether or not personnel are competent to provide a food safety certification. In other words, the accreditation body “checks” the checkers.
The video brings up a very important point: the accreditation body doesn’t handle the food, the farmer, manufacturer, or supplier. Instead, they assess the certifier to assure that their practices conform to specified food safety requirements, that they have competent personnel, and that they operate with transparency and with impartiality.
Although certifiers or audit companies aren’t necessarily required to get accredited, having third-party accreditation offers many benefits. Major stakeholders include government agencies, companies, and international entities rely on accreditors, like ANSI, to assure consistency and integrity of certification bodies and the food safety certifications they issue.
For more on ANSI accreditation, visit www.ansiaccreditation.org.
Vice President, Accreditation Services
American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Photo credit: Jose Antonio Rojo