NEHA been working for several years on the development of a credential to meet the needs of an independent guarantee of a capable workforce for all levels of food safety auditing. NEHA gathered subject matter experts (SMEs) from around the globe to assist in the creation of the Certified in Food Safety Supplier Audits (CFSSA) and Registered Food Safety Auditor (RFSA) credentials. These credentials will build the international capacity of qualified, vetted professionals that will be needed to meet the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Development of the Credentials
NEHA's credentialing department is well versed in the creation and maintenance of credential programs. The department currently offers eight credentials, which includes the CFSSA and RFSA credentials. The credentialing department partnered with psychometricians from Professional Testing, Inc. to ensure that the credential exams, eligibility requirements, scoring, and continuing education requirements were valid, reliable, and legally defensible. The process took place over seven multiday meetings and involved the combined efforts of nearly 30 SMEs from government entities, regulatory agencies, academia, and other organizations. With guidance from the psychometricians, the SMEs discussed the various knowledge, skills, abilities, and job tasks that a future credential holder would require to be competent in the food safety auditing world.
Lead psychometrician Dr. Cynthia Woodley, who has developed certification programs for over 20 years, said, "The program that has been developed for NEHA is a really solid program. It not only is a knowledge-based program, but it is also measuring skills." The finished product is an impartial, third-party endorsement of an individual's professional knowledge and experience that verifies they have achieved a baseline level of competency in food safety auditing.
Throughout the creation process of the CFSSA credential, the SMEs discussed the importance of requiring experience in third-party audits. They stated, however, how difficult it might be for a food auditor to conduct a third-party audit without working for a certification body. By definition, a third-party certification audit is one conducted by a certification body. Thus, the RFSA credential was born.
The RFSA credential builds upon the knowledge of the CFSSA by requiring a certain number of audits in one food sector or category, as well as passing a witness audit...