CanadaGAP Program - On-Farm Food Safety System Helps Horticulture Producers Meet Market Demand
The Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) is a voluntary, not-for-profit, national association which represents the dynamic and diverse Canadian horticulture sector. Under the Canadian Integrated Food Safety Initiative, funded by Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, the CHC received an investment of more than $720,000 from the federal government to help complete the development of an on-farm food safety system.
The CHC first launched its food safety system program for horticulture producers across Canada, CanadaGAP, in September 2008. In May 2010, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), managed by The Consumer Good Forum, gave full recognition to the CanadaGAP program, which was benchmarked against the GFSI requirements. GFSI benchmarks existing food standards against food safety criteria in an independent and technically proficient manner.
GFSI approval gives CanadaGAP equal recognition to other GFSI-benchmarked food safety programs for the primary production sector. This recognition will allow farmers who are CanadaGAP certified to boost their competitive edge in the marketplace and gain greater access to global markets, which are increasingly demanding that companies implement a recognized food safety program.
The chairman of the GFSI Board and vice president of strategic quality management for Metro AG, Jürgen Matern, has stated that
"the current widespread use of this program in Canada will...contribute significantly to driving the enhancement of food safety in the supply chain".
Heather Gale, the national manager for the food safety program at the CHC in Ottawa, explained that the program was designed for producers, storage operators and packers. It is based on the collective desire of growers and other industry participants to ensure a high level of vigilance when it comes to ensuring horticulture products are grown and handled safely and meet the demands of the marketplace.
This program, based on the seven basic principles of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point approach, is available for potatoes, tree and vine fruit, small fruit, greenhouse vegetables, leafy vegetables and cruciferae, asparagus, sweet corn, legumes, bulb and root vegetables and fruiting vegetables.
Brian Gilroy, chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association, referred to CanadaGAP as
"An excellent program that was developed by farmers for farmers".
Although the program is voluntary, Loblaws, McCain Foods, Simplot, Lamb-Weston and Cavendish all require that their suppliers be CanadaGAP certified and others are expected to follow suit.
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