Many small fruit and vegetable producers say CanadaGAP requirements are complex and onerous.
While the major grocers require that suppliers participate in the national food safety certification program, many growers are opting out.
Program participation fell for the first time since inception last year, with BC – home to the largest proportion of CanadaGAP participants – recording a 14% drop.
A revision of CanadaGAP standards to align with new Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards was partly responsible for the drop, says program executive director Heather Gale.
But in an effort to entice producers back, CanadaGAP has announced two new options for non-GFSI-recognized certification.
Beginning April 1, producers who don’t need to demonstrate compliance with the more stringent GFSI standard can opt for a standard based on CanadaGAP safety manuals. While the food safety protocols will be the same as the GFSI standard, the option will have a lower threshold for compliance. GFSI requires 100% compliance; the new option allows 95%.
The new standards cover businesses producing, packing and storing produce as well as those engaged in repacking, wholesaling and the brokerage side of the business.
“Where applicable,” a communiqué to CanadaGAP participants and stakeholders notes, the new options will include “additional GFSI requirements for Environmental Monitoring Program, Food Safety Culture, Food Fraud, Food Defense.”