In our previous blogs we discussed the benefits of GFSI food safety certification and the 5-step process to certification. Now you’ve decided to become GFSI certified, I am sure you have a lot of questions regarding the timeline and the costs; in this article, we will provide industry experience, issues and obstacles we have navigated as GFSI consultants.


Step 1 Food Safety Manual

The first step in your process is to develop a food safety manual which is a formalized record of your procedures, policies, hazard analysis, verification activities and validation records. This is a labor-intensive task and requires a strong thorough knowledge of your organization, ingredients, process, plant, and hazards associated with your food. It is recommended a representative from each department (or department experts) be a member of the food safety team tasked with contributing to the accuracy of the food safety manual. A “Qualified Individual” or qualified food safety expert either on your staff or an outside consultant should chair the committee and oversee each aspect of the development of your food safety manual.


Acceleration to the timeline:

  • Generally, simple food processes such as washing and packing product can reduce the estimated timeline.
  • When development of the food safety manual is a company priority and resources are allocated, the timeline can be shortened by days, sometimes weeks.
  • Consider outsourcing tasks to food safety consultants such as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) section, cleaning and sanitation, and environmental monitoring sections.

Disruptions to the timeline:

  • Complex food manufacturing processes such as food items with several ingredients, requiring multiple steps in the preparation process will require more time and expertise to develop a manual.
  • Lack of resources or internal knowledge of ingredients, plant, and processes.
  • Lack of knowledge of the technical and scientific aspects of food hazards.

Typically, motivated companies can complete this task within 30-90 days.

Step 2 Internal Audit

It is not required but it is strongly recommended you conduct an internal preaudit assessment to identify gaps in your Food Safety Program versus the requirements of the GFSI food safety scheme you have chosen to audit with. In this step you or a professional consultant (some GFSI schemes require an external party to audit your program) will conduct an audit to ensure the facility and documentation meet requirements. Most GFSI-recognized schemes will request 90 days of verification records.


Acceleration to the timeline:

  • Existing forms and logs addressing food safety issues are already established and in use.

Disruptions to the timeline:

  • The internal audit may identify areas requiring improvement and additional documentation needs before audit can be scheduled.

This process takes a minimum of 90 days (due to the paperwork requirements).

Step 3 GFSI audit

You are ready to schedule your 3rd Party Food Safety Audit with a qualified GFSI certification body, GFSI audits can take 1-3 days depending upon the chosen GFSI Food Safety Scheme. During this time, the auditor will walk your facility, interview employees regarding food safety proficiencies and review all food safety related documentations, forms, logs, and policies. At the completion of the food safety inspection, you will be provided with the auditors finding. If the auditor concludes you are not fully compliant with the GFSI requirements, you may be given an opportunity to resolve the issue in the following 30 days, if the auditor finds significant food safety related issues, you may fail your audit, if this occurs you can correct your issues and apply to be re-audited after a designated waiting period has expired (typically 6 months).

Step 4 GFSI recognized certification

Once the food safety inspection is completed one of two things can occur: First, in the event you have been given corrective actions by the auditor, you will receive 30 days to resolve and submit your corrective actions along with root cause analysis as mentioned above, then your certificate will be issued in 15 days. Second, if you do not have any corrective actions from the auditor, the GFSI certification body will issue your certificate within 15 days.
Receiving your food safety certificate can take 30-45 days depending upon the findings of the audit.

Please note, your certificate expires in 12 months and recertification is required.



Step 1 Food Safety Manual

Development of the Food Safety Manual, validation of critical control points and creating and implementing food safety processes, forms and training can take many hours and company resources. The total time and use of resources can vary depending upon plant, process, commodity, the knowledge level and experience of your onsite staff and rate of pay for employees involved in the process. If you decide to outsource this entire function to food safety professionals, their costs vary from $2,500.00 for simple packaging facility to $12,000 for highly processed complex food items, these estimates do not include your staffs time providing the food safety consultant with the specific information needed to complete the manual.

Step 2 Internal Audit

To complete this step of the process, 90 days of food safety records (paper or electronic) are required, employee trainings and Food Safety Team meetings must be held and documented. Many functions and activities in your facility may have changed as a result of the food safety manual creation such as forms or logs to manually verify critical controls or perhaps you decided to implement automated controls that provide alerts when systems do not perform as required or you have purchased an electronic system to track your food safety tasks, as you can imagine, it is difficult to project what these types of changes may cost the organization. Again, the cost of implementing food safety controls and conducting an internal audit may vary significantly so providing an educated estimate is difficult to do without understanding the facility, commodity, process, and level of food safety functionality. If you select a food safety professional to conduct your audit, you should expect to pay a daily rate of $900 to $2,000 depending upon the experience of the auditor.

Step 3 GFSI Audit

Depending upon which GFSI scheme and certification body you choose to conduct your audit, prices can and will vary. You should contact several providers to compare pricing. Please pay attention to the fine print included in your quote and be sure to ask your certification body about all fees and charges, including Auditor travel and expenses. Typically a simple one day audit will cost a couple of thousand dollars, the more complex 3 day audit can be as much as ten thousand dollars with auditor travel and expenses, these estimates do not include your staff time, or experienced consultant to navigate and challenge any audit ambiguity or conflicts etc.

We have attempted to give you with as much detail and estimates as possible, to provide specific pricing and timeline, please contact us to schedule your free onsite assessment. Global Food Safety Consultants has experience with each step of the certification process, let us be your partner for this important step in your company’s future. We are also offering free 30-minute consultations over the phone. Book yours today or visit our website at