Fruit and veg safety program CanadaGAP is making it harder for companies to pass its audits.
Starting next April, companies will need to get 85% to pass. That’s up from 80% now.
The change will affect some 3,000 companies that handle produce and participate in the Canada Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) program.
“To maintain program integrity and credibility, we felt it was time to move in the direction of a higher passing score,” Jack Bates, chair of CanAgPlus, the non-profit operator of CanadaGAP, said in a statement.
“Increasingly buyers are signalling the need for continuous improvement in audit scores,” he added.
The average score on a CanadaGAP audit now is 92%.
About five per cent of companies score between 80% and 85%. That’s good enough to pass now; but a fail as of next April.
CanadaGAP contracts with certification inspection agencies to check farms, packing houses and storage facilities for, among other things, “employee training, hygiene facilities and cleanliness of buildings,” said Heather Gale, GAP executive director. “But we manage the standard.”
The system went into place in the 1990s, Gale said, after bacteria outbreaks hit several U.S. produce producers.
“Retailers and foodservice companies were looking for assurances,” she said.
Participants in CanadaGAP can choose to be audited annually or only every four years with a personal annual assessment expected between official audits.
In addition to audits, CanadaGAP produces manuals for those in greenhouse and food and vegetable production, including packers. repackers and wholesalers.