Nearly thirty years ago, the Dutch feed sector embarked on a tough but essential journey. Following various incidents with contaminated feed, standards for safe feed were introduced for the first time. After three decades, during which time GMP+ International has grown from a national code into an international certification scheme, the time has come for me to take a step back.
Johan den Hartog
Managing Director, GMP+ International
As I do, my main emotion is gratitude. I feel very fortunate to have been at the helm for thirty years. But above all I have been astonished by all those thousands of different people, companies, partners, auditors and committees who have together made the scheme what it is.
I have been lucky enough to be able to facilitate many developments. Not everything has always been immediately received with enthusiasm. But as a wise man once said: ‘Opposing views help us towards our goal.’ Those arguments, based on facts and shared interests, led to various amendments that have ultimately made the scheme stronger.
When I look back at thirty years of ‘GMP+’, I note that as a sector, we have taken the right steps at the crucial moments. That started in the run-up to 1992, when the sector stepped up and took responsibility in response to incidents with contaminated feed. We had to have a single scheme in order to restore trust and keep that trust for the future.
The next crucial moments were above all BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or mad cow disease), and the dioxin scandals with Brazilian citrus pulp in 1998 and waste fats in Belgium in 1999. In response to these events, we expanded the scheme to include the entire chain. This ‘chain approach’, in which certified companies essentially only do business with other certified companies, remains one of the unique selling points of GMP+ FSA to this day.
This expansion automatically meant the scheme became more international. GMP+ FSA got so big that we changed from being semi-private to being an independent private organisation, boosting our international clout.
In 1992 I would never have thought the scheme would have taken off like it did. But it is abundantly clear that, having learned the hard way, as a sector we have developed a solution that enables companies to control risks while at the same time contributing to commercial success. In short, GMP+ FSA meets a need.
In order to continue to do so in the future, it is essential that we remain in close touch with the global community, display leadership and keep on taking the right steps at crucial moments. I wish my successor, Roland van der Post, every success with his new challenge and in further developing our scheme. Personally, I hope to be able to contribute for a few more years, but now in my new (part-time) role as Business Development Director.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my particular thanks to our own team, my colleagues. Your dedication, knowledge and expertise and boundless commitment are indispensible for Feed Safety Worldwide. I am grateful that I have been able to make this journey with you at my side.