Besides USDA GAP/GHP or HGAP-based audits, there is the USDA GroupGAP, as well as other non-USDA benchmarked schemes. We include the USDA GroupGAP in this section since it is different than the USDA-based “one farm-one audit”. Additionally, we include other certification programs. These schemes can be quite costly, but may be mandatory depending on the particular marketplace you want to tap into and the specific requirements of that market. As is true before diving into any audit preparation, it is important to do your homework, talk with your buyers, and explore all of the possible options available to you. Like with anything you do related to your business, understanding all the pros and cons of any decisions are critical. In some cases, you may find it is wiser to look at a different market, should the food safety certification hurdles be too costly given the returns.
GroupGAP is a USDA farm food safety program that provides the entire specialty crops industry the opportunity to supply and buy fruits, vegetables, and related products that are certified as being produced using Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). By allowing allows farmers, food hubs, and marketing organizations of all sizes to band together and pool resources to achieve USDA GAP certification, GroupGAP is helping more farmers supply fresh, local produce to retail and institutional markets, and providing buyers and consumers alike with more purchasing and product options. The following links provide more information including two pilot projects using this approach:
Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)
Since its inception in 2000, GFSI has brought together stakeholders representing the global food industry to collaborate on advancing food safety. An essential part of that goal is to create a common and widely-accepted understanding of what constitutes a good food safety system. The term "GFSI Certification" is often used in reference to certification to a GFSI-recognzed certification program; however, GFSI is not a Certification Program in itself, neither does it carry out any accreditation or certification activities. The GFSI's Benchmarking Requirements, previously known as the GFSI Guidance Document, is a tool used to provide a benchmark document for food safety requirements. Once successfully benchmarked against GFSI's Benchmarking Requirements, food safety certification programs (CPOs) achieve GFSI recognition, which lends a nameplate authority to these certifications and acts as a food safety passport of sorts throughout the global marketplace.
For more information about GFSI-benchmarked certifications, click on the links below:
GLOBALG.A.P. is a business-to-business standard for safe and sustainable food production. GLOBALG.A.P. globally connects farmers and brand owners in the production and marketing of safe food to provide reassurance for consumers. The GLOBALG.A.P. Standard sets very strict criteria for Good Agricultural Practices that farmers must comply with if they want to sell their products to major retailers around the world. Many retailers rely on GLOBALG.A.P. Certification to ensure that the products they sell to their consumers can be traced back to a certified farm or production facility.