All media inquiries should be directed to:
(613) 829-4711 Ext. 101
- What is CanadaGAP®?
- What are producers doing to ensure food safety?
- How did the CanadaGAP Program start?
- Who owns the CanadaGAP Program?
- Who is enrolled in the CanadaGAP Program?
- Why do we need a food safety program for fruits and vegetables?
- Does CanadaGAP certify fruits and vegetables as “safe”?
- Is CanadaGAP a government program?
- What does it cost the producer to become certified?
- Is produce not as safe as it used to be?
- Why have there been so many outbreaks? Are the number of outbreaks increasing and if so, why?
- Is imported produce safe? Is Canadian produce safer?
- How does CanadaGAP compare to other food safety programs around the world?
- How do I arrange an interview with someone at CanadaGAP?
- Can I get comments on a food safety-related issue from an expert at CanadaGAP?
- How do I sign up to get CanadaGAP press releases and newsletters emailed to me?
- Can I obtain an image or logo to go with my story?
Q: What is CanadaGAP®?
A: CanadaGAP is a food safety program for fresh fruits and vegetables.
The program consists of national food safety standards and a certification system for produce suppliers. The program has received full Canadian Government Recognition, and is benchmarked to and recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Two manuals, one specific to greenhouse operations, the second for other fruit and vegetable operations, have been designed for companies implementing Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) in their production, packing and storage operations and for repackers and wholesalers implementing Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and HACCP programs. The program is also designed for fresh produce brokers implementing best practices in supplier management and product traceability. The program is based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and undergoes a rigorous technical review and oversight by Canadian government officials.
The program is open to suppliers who need to demonstrate to their customers that they are meeting food safety requirements. Program participants are required to pass a third party audit specifically based on the CanadaGAP manuals.
Q: What are producers doing to ensure food safety?
A: Canadian suppliers of fresh produce are strongly committed to food safety and implement a number of measures to minimize the potential for contamination of the high quality food they provide to customers.
Fresh produce suppliers understand that vigilance about food safety has to occur at all stages of production and handling. Canadian-grown fresh fruit and vegetables have always been recognized for their high level of production safety. Yet, consumers, global markets and food safety regulators are increasingly demanding documentation to demonstrate that safe production methods are being used. That’s why more formal safety programs have been put in place.
Q: How did the CanadaGAP Program start?
A: CanadaGAP was founded by the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC). A separate, not-for-profit corporation, CanAgPlus, was established in 2012 to oversee and operate the program independently from the national trade association (CHC). The requirements for the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA)'s Repacking and Wholesale Food Safety Program were integrated into CanadaGAP in 2013.
In the late 1990s, members of the CHC – the national association representing fresh fruit and vegetable growers – created an on-farm food safety program to respond to market demands for fresh produce suppliers to demonstrate vigilance about food safety.
The program is the result of years of work by industry representatives and technical experts from across Canada including producers, packers and buyers. The industry has devoted its efforts to developing an effective food safety program that is practical, comprehensive and based on published, peer-reviewed science.
Q: Who owns the CanadaGAP Program?
A: The CanadaGAP Program is owned and operated by CanAgPlus, a Canadian not-for-profit.
Q: Who else is involved in delivery of the CanadaGAP Program?
A: Auditing and certification is outsourced to independent, internationally-accredited Certification Bodies, who are responsible to conduct the audits, review the audit results and make certification decisions.
Q: Who is enrolled in the CanadaGAP Program?
A: Domestic (Canadian) and international suppliers of fresh fruit and vegetables are enrolled in the program. The program covers production, packing, storage, repacking, wholesaling and brokerage of fresh produce.
Q: Why do we need a food safety program for fresh fruits and vegetables?
A: The CanadaGAP Program responds to the needs of the marketplace. Increasingly, retailers, food service companies and food processors require their suppliers to be enrolled in and/or certified to a food safety program.
Several Canadian food companies have officially endorsed the CanadaGAP Program standards and are requiring their growers to be CanadaGAP-certified (or to participate in a similar certification program). These include Metro, Loblaw Companies Limited, Wal-mart, McCain Foods Canada, Simplot Canada, Lamb-Weston and Cavendish, among others.
Q: Does CanadaGAP certify fruits and vegetables as “safe”?
A: No. CanadaGAP certification applies to the operation, not the product. Certification means that an operation meets the required food safety standard and is being maintained on an ongoing basis. This involves having a third party auditor come to the operation and review CanadaGAP manual(s) and related records, visit the facilities and interview the operator and staff, and assess conformance to the program. The Certification Body reviews the results of the audit and makes the certification decision.
Q: Is CanadaGAP a government program?
A: No. CanadaGAP is owned by CanAgPlus, a not-for-profit corporation. However, government has fully recognized the program for its technical standard and for effective management and delivery of the certification system. Each commodity-specific module, as well as the repacking and wholesaling requirements, has undergone a rigorous technical review by a team of specialists from the federal and provincial governments. The program’s development was made possible by federal funding.
Q: What does it cost the producer to become certified?
A: The cost of certification ranges from approximately $1,000 to $2,000 annually. Companies that enrol in the CanadaGAP program have various certification options. Costs vary depending on the certification option their customers require, the scope of their operation and where their facility is located. Visit our page on costs for more detailed information.
Q: Is produce not as safe as it used to be?
A: Canadians consume 50 billion servings of fresh produce annually and the number of outbreaks in a year is relatively low. When you consider how much fresh produce is consumed and the very small number of cases of food borne illness, Canadian consumers can feel confident that overall, fresh produce is safe and healthy.
As with any food product, if fresh produce is not handled properly, there is a risk that it can become contaminated and potentially cause illness. That is why safety programs have been developed throughout the food supply chain, including consumer awareness programs.
Consumers too have a role to play in protecting the safety of their food through proper storage and handling. For example, it is recommended to wash fresh produce before eating it.
Q: Why have there been so many outbreaks? Are the number of outbreaks increasing and if so, why?
A: It is true that there are more reported cases of food borne illness.
One reason that we have more reported cases and outbreaks is that awareness has increased and members of the public and medical professionals now recognize food borne illness more frequently when it occurs.
There is more testing of produce at the federal and provincial levels, more testing of people who become ill and better methods for data collection, reporting and trace-back, especially in the United States. All these factors contribute to greater numbers of cases being detected and reported.
Q: Is imported produce safe? Is Canadian produce safer?
A: Canada’s food safety system includes measures to protect the safety of both imported food and food that is produced in Canada.
Health Canada establishes Canada’s food safety standards and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for enforcement. The standards apply to all foods sold in Canada, no matter what their origin is.
Both the Canadian government and the food industry agree that imported products should adhere to the same high safety standards that Canadian producers follow. Regulations and programs are in development or in place around the world to move towards global standards for food safety.
Q: How does CanadaGAP compare to other food safety programs around the world?
A: CanadaGAP was the first Canadian food safety program to be internationally recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). In May 2010 GFSI formally benchmarked and recognized CanadaGAP certification options B and C as meeting international requirements for food safety. In 2016, GFSI also formally benchmarked and recognized option D for repacking and wholesaling. For more information about GFSI and the benchmarking process, visit www.mygfsi.com.
Through the benchmarking process CanadaGAP has established equivalent status to other internationally recognized food safety programs, such as SQF, PrimusGFS and GLOBALG.A.P. (food safety elements only). These efforts position CanadaGAP-certified companies to remain competitive and use a unique, made-in Canada program that is specifically designed for the produce industry to meet international customer demands.
Q: How do I arrange an interview with someone at CanadaGAP?
A: To arrange an interview, contact CanadaGAP Executive Director Heather Gale, at (613) 829-4711 Ext. 101 or [email protected].
Q: Can I get comments on a food safety-related issue from an expert at CanadaGAP?
A: CanadaGAP can comment on some issues directly related to food safety for fresh fruit and vegetables in Canada. CanadaGAP is not a regulatory body and does not speak on behalf of federal or provincial governments, nor does it lobby governments on behalf of the fresh produce industry.
Q: How do I sign up to get CanadaGAP press releases and newsletters emailed to me?
A: To receive CanadaGAP press releases or newsletters by email, contact us at (613) 829-4711 or [email protected].
Q: Can I obtain an image or logo to go with my story?
A: Yes. Contact Heather Gale at (613) 829-4711 Ext. 101 or [email protected].