Fruit and vegetable growers have a new certified food safety program that the Canadian Horticultural Council hopes will lead to an increase in exports.
CHC has offered an on-farm food safety program for several years and has decided to rename it CanadaGAP to highlight the certified feature for the production, storage and packing of fresh produce. The certification process started last fall and 250 of the 17,000 growers who belong to commodity groups that are members of CHC have enrolled so far, the council says. The program is based on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and analysis using HACCP principles.
The program includes eight on-farm food safety manuals specific to different fruit and vegetable crops. The manuals outline GAPs for producers and packers and contain comprehensive guidance based on hazard analysis using HACCP principles.
The council says the certification component of the program will be useful for growers who must demonstrate to their customers that they are following the food safety manuals. Program participants are required to pass a third-party audit specifically based on the manuals, with audit and certification services provided by an internationally accredited certification body, QMI-SAI Global.
“We are encouraged by the number of producers participating in the certification program so far,” said national program manager Heather Gale. To make sure the CanadaGAP program meets international standards, it will be benchmarked to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) requirements and GlobalGAP standards. Once the benchmarking is complete, CanadaGAP will have equivalent status to other internationally recognized food safety programs around the world.
“This is an exciting development for the On-Farm Food Safety Program,” said Paul LeBlanc, chair of the Food Safety Management Committee at the Canadian Horticultural Council.
GlobalGAP is an international body based in Germany that sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products around the globe. GlobalGAP certification is carried out by more than 100 independent and accredited certification bodies in more than 80 countries. It is open to all producers worldwide. GFSI is co-ordinated by CIES -The Food Business Forum based in Belgium. It maintains a benchmarking process to promote standardization among food safety programs.