What is Food Safety Certification?
Food Safety Certification, commonly known as Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPs, is a program that was created to reduce food safety risk from harvested produce. It is a system to assist farmers to produce the safest fresh food possible and was developed to increase the knowledge about food safety for farmers and their workers, increasing the safety of the food produced on these farms. The certification process includes an audit of the farm and its practices of growing and harvesting fresh produce, done by a food safety certification business. Which business conducts the inspection and assures satisfaction of standards is determined by the marketing firm (or buyer) that is requiring certification. A farm business must meet the requirements to pass the audit in order to continue selling to that specific market.
This certification has been created by the markets that purchase that farm’s produce. When marketers require farms to become food safety certified, they are seeking a systematic approach to enhance the food safety for their customers. Consequently, if a farm has more than one market that requires satisfaction of a food safety certification audit, then it may need to complete the process with more than one agency, depending on the requirements of the markets. This process has been greatly driven by outbreaks of illnesses of consumers of contaminated food.
If you have more than one market that requires GAPs you may wish to approach the markets to seek agreement to allow you you to use a single certifying service, to reduce your cost and time and still demonstrate food safety practices on the farm.