No matter how serious an individual company is about its responsibility, safe feed can never be the result of the efforts of a single party. The weight of safe feed rests on the shoulders of all links in the chain.
Issues regarding own responsibility and (deflecting) blame are as old as humanity itself. The holy books of the three great monotheistic religions all contain the famous story of Adam and Eve. When Adam took a bite of the forbidden fruit in paradise, he blamed Eve for it – after all she had eaten it first and had given him the fruit. Eve, in turn, pointed the accusing finger to the devious snake who had seduced her.
According to the tradition, God did not accept these apologies: it was the responsibility of Adam and Eve to not eat from the tree and they could not blame anyone else for it. That wisdom is still valid today. It is not hard to see the similarities with an integral chain approach for the production of safe feed: the mistakes of one can affect the other, but that never relieves the latter party of its own responsibility for the choices it makes.
The chain is as strong as its weakest link. That is why feed safety assurance should not only be focused on individual companies, but on the chain as a whole. Companies can seek certification for this through independent assessment. Such an approach means, in reality, that companies that are certified for safe feed, can only purchase products and services from suppliers that are (equivalently) certified as well.
Fairly quickly after the GMP+ Feed Safety Assurance (GMP+ FSA) certification was established we saw the importance of involving the entire chain in the pursuit of safe feed. Initially ( (1992-1999) the quality requirements and standards only applied to the factory where the compound feed was produced. But no matter how strictly the company adhered to the rules, the factory always had to deal with supplied ingredients. If there was something wrong with it, the requirements and standards of the factory could not resolve that anymore; it would simply be too late for that. So, in 1999, the decision was made to require a GMP+ FSA-certificate from suppliers as well. Later, this was further expanded into other parties in the chain, such as transporters, intermediaries and storage companies.
It became clear that every company in the chain has to take responsibility for the assurance of the safety of feed products. Evading or running away from these responsibilities is unacceptable. A GMP+ FSA certificate is granted after an audit by an independent certification body approved by GMP+ International. Subsequently, they are audited annually. This work method expressly does not mean that suppliers only have to wave their certificate and can then deliver their products or render their services without any questions. The chain approach lays a firm and important foundation for safe feed: it guarantees to a large degree that all links in the chain assure the quality of feed and services in a uniform and transparent manner (HACCP, prerequisites, system requirements and product limits). But due to the independent certification, the buyer also takes its responsibility.
The GMP+ FSA certification stipulates that suppliers are assessed and that the accepted batches are evaluated periodically. These are the so-called supplier assessments, also referred to as second party audits. It does not serve to replace the certification audit (third party audit), just as the certification audit does not serve to replace the supplier assessment they are two independent elements that jointly bring the production of safe feed a big step closer.
In essence, supplier assessments mean that information is exchanged and that insight is gained into the quality assessment applied by the supplier. This supplier assessment underlines the importance of the responsibility of every link in the chain.
The unique chain approach used by GMP+ International brings the best of two worlds together: individual and joint responsibility. Every link in the chain must make effort for the shared interest of feed safety. When all parties together adhere to the limits and applicable law and legislation, we, the feed sector, contribute to safe feed, sustainability and greater trust among the end customers.
The requirement to buy from GMP+ FSA certified suppliers applies to feed (feed additives, compound feed and premixtures) and services (transport, storage and transshipment and laboratory work). For certain products and services it has proven impossible to demand GMP+ FSA (or equivalent) certification. For these situations, the gatekeeper option is a possibility. In those cases, the buying or hiring GMP+ FSA participant adopts the responsibility of the supplier. More information is available at www.gmpplus.org.
In 2017, the GMP+ FSA scheme celebrates its 25-year anniversary. This anniversary is celebrated with an international conference in the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, early November. More information is available at op www.feedsafetyconference.com.