Certification Option B: Group Certification

Producers can be certified to the CanadaGAP® Program by organizing themselves as a Group and running a central food safety management system.

This approach was developed based on GLOBALG.A.P.’s group certification scheme. If cost considerations are the driver for group certification, it should be noted that this approach, to date, has proven most beneficial to larger groups (e.g., at least 75 members) where existing resources of the group can be effectively applied and economies of scale achieved.

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) in May 2010 formally benchmarked and approved certification options B and C as meeting international requirements for on-farm food safety.

Essentially, Group Certification offers a two-layered approach to auditing, involving:

i. Use of qualified internal auditors engaged by the Group to audit member sites (i.e., production, storage and packing locations) and internally audit the Group Management System, and

ii. External audits of the Group by a licensed Certification Body.

Internal audits

Using a qualified internal auditor(s), the Group must carry out audits each year on all registered group members, all central storage and packing facilities, and the Group Management System. The audits of production, storage and packing sites must cover the full CanadaGAP Audit Checklist. New members must pass the audit prior to being entered on the registered list. The audit reports, corrective actions, etc. must be impartially reviewed by the Group Management System Internal Auditor or another qualified person who did not perform the audit of the group member’s operation.

The Group must engage a qualified Group Management System Internal Auditor to perform an annual internal audit based on using the CanadaGAP Group Management System Checklist. In effect, the Group is charged with acting as if it were a certification body operating with initial certification and surveillance audits of its members’ operations. For further details, refer to the CanadaGAP Management Manual, Appendix III.1.

External audits

Audits of the Group by a licensed Certification Body. The external audit functions must be carried out by a CanadaGAP-licensed Certification Body annually. Sampling of the group members (i.e., production, storage and packing sites) is permitted to certify the Group under Option B. For further details, refer to the CanadaGAP Management Manual, Appendix III.1.

The specifics as to who is audited and at what minimum frequency, including random sampling plans, are outlined in the table below for “Option B”. Some cost information is also indicated in the chart.

Group Certification

(Note: Certification to Option B occurs on an annual basis.)
     Requirement  
 Component  Unit Cost
 Year 1
Subsequent Years
Certification Body (External 3rd party) Random Audit of Group Management System $2,500
Yes Yes
Annual Program Fee for Additional Group Members (per each additional 25 group members)
$500
Yes Yes
Internal Audit of Group Management System by Group Management System Internal Auditor Group responsible for delivery and costs Yes Yes
Internal Audits of each Central Storage/Packing Site by Group’s qualified internal auditor(s) Group responsible for delivery and costs Each central site   Each central site
Internal Audits of each Member by Group’s qualified internal auditor(s) Group responsible for delivery and costs Each group member Each group member
Certification Body (External 3rd party) Audit of Group Management System Check rates with Certification Body Yes Yes
Certification Body (External 3rd party) Random Audit of Group Management System Check rates with Certification Body Could be selected as part of surveillance program (10% of all Option B enrolees under each Certification Body)

Could be selected as part of surveillance program (10% of all Option B enrolees under each Certification Body)

Certification Body (External 3rd party) Audits of Central Storage/Packing Sites Check rates with Certification Body Square root of # of central sites Square root of # of central sites
Certification Body (External 3rd party) Audits of Selected Group Members – in conjunction
with Group Management System Audit
Check rates with Certification Body Minimum: Square root of number in group

(can be increased up to 4x)
 Minimum: 50%
of square root of # in group

(can be increased up to 4x)
Certification Body (External 3rd party) Random Audits of Group Members – during the
certification year
Check rates with Certification Body
During the certification year: 50% of square root of number in group During the
certification year: 50% of square root of number in group

Certification Body (External 3rd party) Triggered Audit* (if needed to investigate a
potential Food Safety risk at a particular site and/or within the Group
Management System)
Check rates with Certification Body Possible
Possible
Certification Body Auditor’s Travel Costs Check rates with Certification Body Varies by location 

  * A triggered audit would only be deemed necessary to investigate a potential food safety risk at a particular site. These could be triggered as a follow up to an on-site visit, from the audit of the Management System, etc. The cost of triggered audits would be borne by the Group. Participants can avoid triggered audits by managing risks as outlined in the CanadaGAP manual(s).

IMPORTANT: You are advised to check with your customer regarding acceptance of various CanadaGAP certification options. Option B was formally recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) in May 2010.

Cost Implications

With Option B, some cost savings will be found in terms of a lower Annual Program Fee payable to CanadaGAP for delivery of program services (on a per-producer basis, as compared to Options A1, A2 or C). However, in contrast, Option B includes a potentially significant, additional cost component, related to the Group’s delivery of the required internal (second party) audits. Each grower must undergo an on-site, internal audit by the Group each year. The cost of administering an internal food safety management system and delivery of internal audits is up to the group, allowing for these costs to be scaled to decisions made relative to internal administration.

Option B involves four cost components:

  • Annual Program Fee
  • Internal (Group) Delivery Costs - to manage the system, conduct internal audits, etc.
  • Certification Body (External 3rd party) Audit Fees
  • Auditor Travel Expenses

1) Annual Program Fee Paid by the program participant to CanadaGAP. Covers CanadaGAP’s costs to administer the program, process enrolment applications, maintain the technical standards and training materials, oversee Certification Bodies, maintain our international benchmarking status and technical reviews by government, collect and analyse data, monitor developments in food safety science and media, offer technical support to the Certification Bodies, communicate to program participants, program marketing/education, office overhead, staff and related expenses.

2) Internal (Group) Delivery
Costs to manage their internal management system, conduct internal audits, review audit reports of Group member farms, follow up on corrective actions, etc.

3) Audit Costs Paid directly by the program participant to the Certification Body. Covers the Certification Body's cost to deliver audit and certification services including auditor’s time to perform audits, auditor travel time, technical review of audit reports, follow-up on corrective actions, issuing certificates, administration and office overhead, billing functions, etc.

4) Auditor’s Travel Expenses
Costs vary depending on location of the facility, closest available auditor, and proximity to other audit sites. Every effort will be made to schedule audits in such a way to minimize auditor travel expenses.