Major processors, grocery and restaurant chains are demanding that producers follow best practices to limit food safety risks. And, the only way to show you’re on track is through paperwork. Leading edge growers are using this tracking to create a competitive advantage for their business.
Food-safety programs can help
“Taking part in a program is the best way to convince your customers that you’re providing the safety and quality they need,” says Eva Sanz-Sole, a senior food safety project manager at the Guelph Food Technology Centre.
Sanz-Sole says growers who participate in a program like CanadaGAP (Good Agricultural Practices) often say their businesses’ efficiency has increased. Workers become more aware of their responsibilities. Silly mistakes that cause grief are eliminated, which reduces the risk for the grower as well.
CanadaGAP was introduced by the Canadian Horticultural Council in late 2008. It was designed to conform to the requirements of the Global Food Safety Initiative which is recognized globally and encourages the growth of export markets for Canada.
The program certification involves checking conformance including inspection of manuals and related records, interviewing farm business operators and checking on the mandatory recall-readiness system. Multi-crop producers need only one audit, and each commodity-specific module is updated annually with more clarity and specifics.
Find the right fit
A good first step is to contact your industry’s grower association. They’ll know where to find the program that best fits your situation. Attending a class or seminar can kick start your personal food-safety program.
Taking part in a program is really becoming a must, says Sanz-Sole. “Customers increasingly demand it, and it will benefit your farm business in other ways, as
well as preparing you for national traceability legislation to come.”