“The GLOBALG.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) standard version 5.4-1-GFS for fruit and vegetables, plus the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR) add-on version 1.3, is now officially recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be in alignment with the PSR.
“We are pleased that the FDA now officially recognizes IFA as a reliable basis for food safety,” said Managing Director Elmé Coetzer-Boersma.
“We are grateful to the National Technical Working Group USA and the global stakeholders that have shaped the development of the FSMA PSR add-on since 2016,” said President of GLOBALG.A.P. North America Inc. Roberta Anderson. “We are a stakeholder-driven organization, and this milestone is evidence of the value of our collaborative approach.”
Governments recognize private assurance solutions
This is not the first time that a GLOBALG.A.P. farm assurance standard has been recognized by government oversight bodies. In late 2022, the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) awarded a similar official recognition of IFA as a trusted farm assurance standard that reflects the Dutch government’s food safety objectives.
The United States is the world’s leading importer of fresh fruits and vegetables, bringing in produce from over 125 different countries. Buyers, importers, and receiving facilities in the United States often use third-party audits to assess product quality and safety and may make purchase agreements contingent on the results of these audits.
Stakeholders in the produce supply chain who handle produce sourced from local and international farms that are certified to officially recognized third-party solutions can have confidence that their suppliers satisfy applicable FDA food safety rules. This efficiency extends to government vigilance as well, as FDA investigators will have more reliable indicators of importers’ compliance with FSMA requirements based on private third-party audit results and can allocate oversight resources accordingly.
“FoodPLUS GmbH expects this new recognition to make food safety auditing more efficient and to streamline supply chain operations among producers and US importers who rely on GLOBALG.A.P. farm assurance solutions,” said Coetzer-Boersma. “Foreign producers adopting IFA plus the FSMA PSR add-on will also be demonstrating their commitment to supplying trustworthy, safe food for export to the United States.”
“We believe that the FSMA PSR add-on is not just valuable for importers but also for producers in the United States who are seeking a streamlined approach to meeting regulatory and market needs,” said Anderson.
How the GLOBALG.A.P. Secretariat achieved official recognition of alignment
In October 2020, the FDA announced a voluntary pilot program to evaluate the alignment of third-party food safety standards with FSMA rules. The FDA designed this program to reduce redundancy and streamline auditing by recognizing private standards that satisfy the FDA’s Preventive Controls for Human Food and PSR requirements.
FoodPLUS GmbH submitted a comparison between the PSR and IFA v5.4-1-GFS plus the FSMA PSR add-on v1.2 which was reviewed by an FDA subject matter expert. Discrepancies were addressed and the resulting revisions were published in the FSMA PSR add-on v1.3, which became obligatory in December 2022.
By adopting IFA plus the FSMA PSR add-on, fruit and vegetable producers who produce in or export to the United States can become “FSMA-ready”, and importers of their products can be assured of alignment with the PSR.
GLOBALG.A.P. is a brand of smart farm assurance solutions developed by FoodPLUS GmbH in Cologne, Germany, with cooperation from producers, retailers, and other stakeholders across the food industry. These solutions include a range of standards for safe, socially and environmentally responsible farming practices. The most widely used GLOBALG.A.P. standard is IFA, applicable to fruit and vegetables, aquaculture, floriculture, and more. This standard also forms the basis for the GGN label – the consumer label for certified, responsible farming and transparency.
The GLOBALG.A.P. brand began its journey as EUREPGAP in 1997. 25 years later, over 200,000 producers are under GLOBALG.A.P. certification in 132 countries. Nearly 150 team members around the world are dedicated to the mission of spreading responsible farming practices to ensure safe food for future generations.
*This article is excerpted from perishablenews.com website, published 21st July 2023