From MFK Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Lauren Plummer
April 6, 2023
At our Cap-Haitien RUTF factory, MFK’s Haiti team works diligently year-round to pass food safety and quality assurance audits. The FSSC (Food Safety System Certification) 22000 audit took place March 29-31, 2023 in Haiti. MFK’s key customers, UNICEF, World Food Programme and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) (together known as Interagency) have a combined quality assurance and food safety auditing arrangement. As one new part of the Interagency audit requirements, it was mandated that all suppliers of RUTF and RUSF must become FSSC 22000 certified. We were up for the challenge!
FSSC 22000, the certifying body, is based in the Netherlands; it is the innovation of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) to help improve food safety world-wide. MFK successfully passed the FSSC 22000 in early April of 2022, and our auditor made the recommendation that we be certified. We received our FSSC 22000 Certificate on May 17, 2022, and were just re-certified this week. The FSSC 22000 standard builds on our previous ISO 22000:2018 certification but is a more challenging certification, with even higher standards and additional requirements. The team in Haiti worked very hard to ensure that we were well-prepared for this audit. All key managers at our Cap-Haitien facility are part of the Food Safety Management Team, and this success was a wonderful example of what this talented team can accomplish.
The History of our certification journey
In 2018, Meds & Food for Kids embarked on a journey to achieve certification of the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) 22000 standards. After many months of hard work and an intense two-day audit of our management systems, MFK was granted certification in ISO 22000:2005 on March 20, 2019. MFK was one of the first food processing facilities in Haiti to achieve this certification.
ISO is a worldwide federation of national standards. Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant international standards which support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges. Certification can be a useful tool to add credibility by demonstrating that a product or service meets the expectations of your customers. For some industries, certification is a legal or contractual requirement. MFK’s largest customer, UNICEF, had strongly encouraged its suppliers to become certified.
Gaining certification was just the beginning of our journey; the ISO 22000:2005 certificate was valid for three years, but the independent auditors must conduct an update audit each year for the certification to remain in place. In 2020, MFK’s update audit was scheduled for March 18-19 at our facility in Haiti. The auditors, based at a consulting firm in Mexico City, Mexico, were unable to travel to Haiti, due to security in Haiti as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Again in 2021, travel restrictions from the pandemic made it impossible to audit our facility in person. But we finished off the third year’s audit with flying colors.
In April 2022, we achieved the next important step in our quality journey by being FSSC 22000 certified. And in March, 2023, we were re-certified. For the first time in our history, we were re-certified without a single non-conformity finding. Kudos to the team in Haiti! Great job, everyone!