by SUSAN MANN
Wholesalers and repackers of fresh fruits and vegetable can now get certified as part of the horticultural industry’s national food safety program, CanadaGAP.
Heather Gale, executive director of CanadaGAP, says wholesale and repacking businesses have a food safety program developed by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association previously that “existed as a standard.” But now wholesalers and repackers can get a CanadaGAP audit of their business premises done annually based on the produce marketing association’s standard and then get certified under the CanadaGAP program.
“We’ve integrated their requirements from their standard into our certification program and they can now get CanadaGAP certification for repackers and wholesalers,” she says.
Similar to the CanadaGAP program, the produce marketing association’s standard has gone through a technical review by the federal and provincial governments “to make sure that what’s in the standard is technically sound,” Gale explains.
CanadaGAP is a national, voluntary food safety program of standards and a certification system for the safe production and handling of fresh fruits and vegetables, according to a March 21 CanadaGAP press release.
It’s hard to say how many repackers and wholesalers will choose to get certified. Gale says if customers require their suppliers to get certification, then the program is mandatory for them. “We don’t know exactly what the uptake is going to be. It’s driven by the buyers.”
With the repackers and wholesalers now having the option to be certified as part of a food safety program, the entire fresh produce supply chain, including farmers and packers, can follow a food safety program and be audited to ensure they’re meeting requirements.
Gale says more than 2,400 companies across Canada are certified under CanadaGAP. That number includes fruit and vegetable farmers and packers. The participating companies represent an estimated 75 to 80 per cent of the production across Canada. BF