We are celebrating a lustrum this month! Five years ago, the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) accepted IFS for Ketenborging.nl. It marked the start of a constructive and productive public-private cooperation for safer and more trust in food products. In this blog, Hans van der A of the NVWA and IFS's Stephan Tromp look back and ahead.

Ketenborging.nl resulted from a task force action plan initiated by the Dutch government to restore consumer confidence in food products after the horsemeat scandal in 2012. The public and private parties involved recognised that private quality schemes such as IFS play an important role in safeguarding food safety and integrity and set criteria for the acceptance of these schemes. In its supervision of food producers, NVWA considers whether the business is certified to a quality scheme that has met the criteria.

Hans van der A, Coordinator Public-private partnership of NVWA, shares his experiences and lessons learned with us:

"The acceptance of the IFS Food standard for Ketenborging.nl in 2016 was the moment for the NVWA to seek cooperation with IFS and explore the added value of IFS certification for our supervision and food safety in the Netherlands together. We have started a monitoring program in consultation with IFS and have made agreements within the scope of privacy legislation to exchange relevant information with each other.

We are now five years later, and we believe that the collaboration has proved very successful. The results from the monitoring program show that the IFS Food standard certification certainly has added value to our supervision. Companies themselves are responsible for producing and marketing safe food. It appears that companies that are certified to a quality system accepted for Ketenborging.nl comply better than non-certified companies. Therefore, the NVWA supports this form of self-regulation and, where possible, takes a company's certification status into account when setting up its risk-oriented supervision.

The relationship we have built up with the IFS team is very cordial and constructive. We have regular consultations and an annual evaluation moment in which we discuss improvement actions to increase the added value of the collaboration. In addition, we have short and direct lines to contact each other if there are current issues that affect our cooperation. In particular, the collaboration with the employees of the team who manage the integrity program is enjoyable and valuable. We see that the IFS team responds adequately and effectively to our signals.

The collaboration with IFS over the past five years has shown that Public-Private Partnerships can be successful; it is a process that we can and will develop further. As NVWA, we would like to continue contributing to this to combine forces even better and guarantee food safety together. On to the next five years! "

Stephan Tromp, IFS's Managing Director, adds:

"I am looking forward to continuing the constructive partnership with the NVWA. To me, it is a role model for a public-private partnership that enhances food safety and integrity and really makes a difference. Being the first country in the European Union to implement a policy that includes private quality schemes, the Netherlands have done pioneering work and paved the way for other countries. For example, IFS has gained acceptance by Belgian and French food safety authorities even if the design of their policies may differ.

IFS stands for high-level and reliable certification to enhance food and product safety. For us, it is a confirmation that NVWA sees that sites certified to a standard accepted by Ketenborging.nl seem to perform better than others. For IFS Food certified businesses, it means that they can profit from reduced supervision, fewer supervision costs and a better image.

It is in the mutual interest of NVWA and IFS that consumers can trust the products they buy in supermarkets and other retail stores. That's what both organisations work for every day. The regular information exchange, consultations, and evaluation meetings between our organisations always bring new insights and impulses for further development and continuous improvement. I am convinced that, in many ways, we are on the right track with this unique cooperation. Let's continue our journey!"

For more information about Ketenborging.nl

For more information about IFS Food 7