Equitable Food Initiative, a multistakeholder workforce development and certification organization that partners with growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumer groups, has announced that its food safety certification has been recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative. As a result, EFI now offers a fresh produce certification that satisfies multiple retail requirements in a single audit.
Major retailers already accept EFI as a third-party certification for both responsible sourcing and pollinator health/integrated pest management, said the Washington, D.C.-based EFI in a release. The addition of a GFSI-recognized food safety certification streamlines the audit process even further.
“Earning GFSI recognition for our certification program is an essential step in creating a one-stop-shop that eliminates the redundancy of multiple audits,” said Peter O’Driscoll, executive director of EFI, in a release. “From our earliest days, EFI has aimed to create a system that raises audit standards while reducing the overall burden of time and cost for growers. Our ongoing partnership with industry stakeholders and now with GFSI is bringing this vision to fruition.”
The single EFI audit is also expected to reduce labor associated with audit work.
“The demand of multiple standards from different retail buyers quickly creates audit fatigue and is costly and time consuming for farming operations,” said Amalia Zimmerman-Lommel, director of corporate social responsibility at Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce/GoodFarms. “EFI has already alleviated a lot of that burden, reducing dedicated staff time by more than 50% as it relates to audit work. EFI certification already satisfies social responsibility requirements for the majority of our retail buyers, and the addition of a GFSI-recognized food safety audit will reduce our number of audits even more.”
As a member of the EFI Standards Committee, the Consumer Federation of America helps create and review EFI standards, like its food safety certification.
“EFI has always brought value for consumers by bringing everyone to the table,” said Thomas Gremillion, director of food policy at CFA. “In developing a single audit that drives meaningful benefits for growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumers alike, EFI is poised more than ever to transform agriculture and improve the lives of farmworkers. CFA has been honored to participate in this endeavor.”
Since 2012, EFI’s certification program has sought to help farming operations create an internal culture and collaborative structure that responds to changing requirements. The program has also evolved with multistakeholder input to satisfy multiple retailer requirements and demonstrate supplier commitment to the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices.
Auditors from SCS Global Services, a certifying body of the EFI program, are on the ground ensuring the EFI standards are being upheld, according to a release.
“We are poised to provide highly skilled and trained auditors who can deliver a seamless single audit that brings value to growing operations,” said Kevin Warner, director, ESG certifications and strategy for SCS. “Our audits to EFI standards ensure a level of systemwide culture change that will sustain a fresh produce grower through changing requirements.”
The Global Food Safety Initiative is a Coalition of Action from The Consumer Goods Forum, bringing together 42 retailers and manufacturers from across the forum’s membership and an extended food safety community to oversee food safety standards for businesses and help provide access to safe food for people everywhere.
GFSI’s benchmarking process compares a food safety certification program owner to the GFSI benchmarking requirements. The process is designed to be executed in an independent, unbiased, technically proficient and transparent manner. A program is ‘recognized’ by GFSI when it has been verified that it meets every single GFSI benchmarking requirement, both in procedures and in operations.
Industry members interested in learning more about EFI certification can visit equitablefood.org/certification.