Fruit and Vegetable NIG as official, allowing U.S. produce operations to be certified to the Produce Safety Standards using
the verbatim Harmonized Standards plus the GlobalG.A.P.
riders. As of this writing, the GlobalG.A.P. Produce Safety
Standards are being re-benchmarked to the new GFSI Guidance Document 6, but retailers requiring certification to a
GFSI-benchmarked standard are accepting the GlobalG.A.P.
Produce Safety Standards certificates.
The Safe Quality Food (SQF) Institute took a different approach to adopting the Harmonized Standards. In 2012, SQF
reorganized its food safety standards, combining its SQF 2000
standards for processed foods and its SQF 1000 standards for
produce growing and handling into a new set of standards
aligned with the new GFSI Guidance Document 6. SQF implemented a “Module 2,” covering an operation’s food safety
management system and required for all operations undergoing SQF certification. The institute also modified its SQF
1000 requirements into a “Module 7,” covering fresh produce
growing and harvesting. SQF submitted these and other modules to GFSI and completed re-benchmarking in late 2012.
At this writing, with the bulk of the re-benchmarking process
complete, SQF plans to submit the Harmonized Standards,
verbatim except for the portions already covered in its mandatory Module 2, to GFSI for benchmarking as an alternative
Thus, for operations whose buyers require them to be certified to a GFSI-benchmarked standard, they have two options
with the Harmonized Standards, and operations can choose
whichever best fits their culture.
The fly in this ointment, however, is that the GFSI guidelines don’t appear to allow for government auditors to be
certification bodies, as the GFSI guidelines require private
sector oversight by an accreditation body like ANSI. At this
writing, USDA and several state departments of agriculture are
exploring ways around this obstacle. If successful, then operations torn between buyers requiring GFSI and government-performed audits can do both with one audit using the Harmonized Standards.
Calibration Committee and Standards Interpretation. A key aspect of the harmonization process was to use the words from
established food safety standards to write the Requirements
and Procedures of the Harmonized Standards without change.
While some editing was done to remove redundancies, the
TWG was largely successful in keeping to this process. Additional words and columns (i.e., Verification and Corrective
Actions) were included to clarify what was being required and
minimize opportunities for “audit creep.” For example, the
TWG carefully stated when policies, procedures and records
were required to be written, allowing for verbal policies and
procedures to suffice when not critical for safe practices, par-
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