Produce growers spin off national food safety program

The national on-farm food safety program for Canada’s fresh fruit and vegetable producers and suppliers is under new ownership.

The CanadaGAP food safety certification program, set up by the Canadian Horticultural Council in 2008 and used now by over 2,000 companies and farms that produce, pack and store fruits and vegetables, will now be operated by a new not-for-profit corporation, dubbed CanAgPlus.

CanAgPlus was set up in a move to integrate CanadaGAP with the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA)’s repacking and wholesale food safety program.

The integrated program hasn’t yet rolled out, the two groups said, but work is "actively progressing and will continue into 2013."

"The new corporate structure will provide benefits to members and engage a broader stakeholder base while effectively managing the liability of the programs’ founding organizations," Alberta produce grower Tom Byttynen, a former CPMA chairman and now chair of the new non-profit’s board, said in a release Monday.

CanadaGAP program requirements and the audit and certification process will remain the same for program participants and for certification bodies delivering third-party audits, the CHC said in its release.

Under the new ownership, however, program participants may become members of CanAgPlus — which in turn would offer them "new rights and privileges" such as to attend annual meetings, submit resolutions and elect the new company’s board of directors.

"Integration of the two food safety programs is expected to contribute to lower costs and greater efficiency for industry and for companies involved in growing, packing, storage, repacking and wholesale," said Jane Proctor, CPMA’s vice-president for policy and issues management.

CanadaGAP was designed to help set up effective food safety procedures within fresh produce operations and provides manuals specific to the greenhouse sector and to other fruit and vegetable operations.

Related story:
Fruit and vegetable safety program rebranded, March 12, 2009

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