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. This approach has proven most beneficial where existing resources of the group can be effectively applied and economies of scale achieved.

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) has formally benchmarked and recognized certification Options B as meeting international requirements for 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, 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 (Option B certification rules) and Appendix III.3 (regarding certification body sampling of group members).

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. Risk-based sampling of the group members is used to certify the Group under Option B. For further details, refer to the CanadaGAP Management Manual, Appendix III.1 and Appendix III.3.

The specifics as to who is audited and at what minimum frequency 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.)

ComponentUnit CostAnnual
Annual program fee (for first 25 group members)$2,625Yes
Annual program fee for additional group members (per each additional 25 group members)$525Yes
Internal audit of group management system by group management system internal auditorGroup responsible for delivery and costsYes
Internal audits of each member (i.e. production, packing and storage sites) by group's qualified internal auditor(s)Group responsible for delivery and costsEach group member(i.e. production, packing and storage sites)
Certification Body (external 3rd party) announced audit of Group Management SystemCheck rates with Certification BodyYes
Certification Body (external 3rd party) audits of sampled group members (i.e. production, packing and storage sites)Check rates with Certification BodyRisk-based sampling - depends on group makeup

Ranges from minimum square root sampling of group members with lower risk crops, to annual audits of group members with high risk crops and/or activities (see details in Appendices III.1 and III.3 of the CanadaGAP Program Management Manual
Certification Body (external 3rd party) unannounced audits of group members Check rates with Certification Body25% of sampled group members must be audited unannounced
Certification Body (external 3rd party) triggered audit Check rates with Certification BodyPossible
Certification Body auditor's travel costsCheck rates with Certification BodyVaries by location

* A triggered audit could be deemed necessary by the certification body to investigate a potential food safety risk at a particular site or with the Group Management System overall. 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 is formally recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

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 group member 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:

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.

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

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.

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.

March 24th, 2020 at 02:26 pm