Think what you like to about Wal-Mart's impact on local merchants, but in one important area this low-cost "big box" company is proving itself to be a true good corporate citizen.
Yesterday, Wal-Mart announced that it will be requiring all of its food suppliers to meet the standards set out by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). This means that all of Wal-Mart's suppliers of meat, poultry, produce, fish and private-label food products will have to commit to a food safety certification program, including regular audits by independent, third-party food safety experts. The program is being phased in during 2008; initial certification inspections of all suppliers will be carried out between July and December of this year. The target date for final certification of all suppliers is July 2009.
GFSI was launched in 2000 under the auspices of CIES - The Food Business Forum, an international organization that comprises nearly 400 companies. Now, seven member companies – all of them major international retail organizations, including Wal-Mart, Tesco, Carrefour, Metro, Migros, Ahold, and Delhaize – have agreed to a common set of four food safety benchmark programs. The GFSI Guidance Document adopted by these companies (5th edition was released in 2007) spells out the agreed-to certification parameters, which include appropriate application of HACCP, as well as adherence to practices set out by the International Standards Organization and the Codex Alimentarius.
It's nice to see that some major international corporations have decided food safety is good business.