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Dispatches from GFSI 2017 in Houston

EHEDG looks to bring hygienic design knowledge to GFSI

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By Joe Whitworth+

Last updated on 12-Apr-2017 at 13:44 GMT2017-04-12T13:44:52Z

Patrick Wouters (left) and Ludvig Josefsberg (right) at GFSI 2017
Patrick Wouters (left) and Ludvig Josefsberg (right) at GFSI 2017

EHEDG has told FoodQualityNews that it wants to establish a close co-operation with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

The European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG) said such an association would enable it to contribute knowledge that adds technical depth to food safety management systems.

It has started a project to align itself as a recognized prerequisite program in accordance with GFSI requirements.

EHEDG develops technical based guidelines for design and engineering of equipment, machinery and food factories.

It has more than 20 active working groups on topics from air handling to zoning of hygienic food factories and production lines.

Complementary efforts

Ludvig Josefsberg, EHEDG president, said: “The key message is that we have a long history in developing guidelines for the food industry and we believe this knowledge that we have built through the voluntary work of our member companies and their expertise is complementary to the efforts by GFSI to drive certification of production facilities.

“As part of that we believe that we should be able to join forces into, if needed, complementing the portfolio that we have to fulfil the requirements of global food companies.”

Being accepted as a player in this field would give credibility to the work it is doing, said Josefsberg.

“Our main objective is not just to get credibility; our main objective is to be able to distribute our knowledge into the work that is going on with the certification initiatives within the global food system. 

“Our goal is to be a recognised partner in the framework that is being set up now. In order for us to be fully recognised we may need to do some modifications or adaptations to the portfolio that we have to fit the requirements.”

The non-profit organisation has also developed training programs to disseminate knowledge.

Stakeholder groups include equipment manufacturers, food producers, institutes and universities.

Recently joined companies include Camfil, Beneo, ABB, Siltec, Euroflex and Hydiac.

“We are not so well-known in America mainly because we have a ‘cousin’ called 3-A Standards Inc. and they have a similar mission as EH has outside the US and that is to drive development of hygienic design, of processing, of equipment and factories,” said Josefsberg.

“We develop guidelines and they develop mandatory standards in the US market. We haven’t made an effort to compete with 3A, we see ourselves as complementary.

“There are many US-based companies who operate outside and inside the US like Cargill and Mondelez, who are well-aware of us as they are members. But there are many other companies mostly US-based, still very large, who don’t have the same knowledge of level about our activities.”

Partnership potential

Patrick Wouters, EHEDG vice president, said it is looking to contribute its knowledge to GFSI work.

GFSI is a benchmarking organisation and we are looking at how can we further optimise the way we manufacture food products and hygienic engineering and design from a factory perspective, a utility perspective as well as from an equipment design perspective could contribute to improving the certainty we product safe foods,” he said.

“We would like to be participating in working groups on behalf of EH to see how the future could look like and what kind of opportunities we could identify to potentially improve the certification schemes with respect to hygienic engineering and design.”

Mike Robach, chair of the GFSI Board of Directors, told us it was essential it doesn’t go out and try to ‘reinvent the wheel’, when asked about partnering with organisations, such as EHEDG.

“It is extremely important that we are working with other organisations that are out there. We’re made up of different member companies and through our companies we are members of a lot of different organisations,” he said.

“If somebody is already doing something in an area that we can incorporate into what we are doing we simply will do that. It makes no sense for us to go out and build a redundant programme.

“We have many stakeholders that can come together and network and share best practices and from that those kinds of alliances will develop.”

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