The CanadaGAP auditor will ask the operation about their product suppliers and check the approval systems/procedures they have in place. The operation will be responsible for showing and explaining how they source product from suppliers and how they manage those supplier certifications.

One aspect of this evaluation is reviewing the food safety certificates. In some cases, the auditor will be able to see all of the food safety certificates on file, but depending on the situation, a sampling of the certificates could also be appropriate. In these cases, there is not a set number of certificates that need to be reviewed by an auditor.

The number of certificates sampled depends on a wide variety of factors including:

  • How robust the operation’s product supplier approval program is,
  • The total number of suppliers that an operation has (i.e., an operation with more suppliers in total would generally require a greater number of certificates to be reviewed),
  • The commodities that are being supplied to the operation (e.g., low risk products vs high risk products, one commodity from many suppliers vs 20 commodities from many suppliers),
  • The location of the suppliers,
  • Previous history of the suppliers (e.g., a supplier that did not have a food safety certificate the previous year, a new supplier, etc.),
  • The food safety program the supplier is certified under (e.g., CanadaGAP, another GFSI third-party certification, another country’s food safety program’s certificate, a CFIA inspection audit report, etc.)

There are many different situations that auditors will encounter, but for example; an operation sourcing potatoes from 100 CanadaGAP suppliers may need to have fewer certificates sampled than an operation sourcing leafy greens from 100 suppliers that have a variety of food safety certificates.

The auditor is then expected to assess the food safety audit/certificate for accuracy and validity. Factors auditors may consider during the assessment include:

  • What commodity is the certification for? Does it match the scope of what is being supplied?
  • What activity is the supplier certified for? Does it make sense in terms of what is being supplied? For example, the supplier is certified for “production”. They are a producer who is growing apples and they supply to a packer
  • Is the certificate/report valid (e.g., the expiry date has not elapsed)?
  • Is it a food safety certification program? Is it a HACCP program? The intent is that the supplier is following a program that has food safety practices and processes in place (like the CanadaGAP program) in order to mitigate the risk of contamination
  • Is it an inspection with an audit report? Conducted by a credible body? An industry recognized third-party? The intent is that the report will contain an overview of the assessment conducted and that the food safety practices and processes in place were assessed thoroughly.

If these factors are not clearly outlined on the audit/certificate and/or the auditor has questions about the certification, it is the responsibility of the operation to investigate further and be able to provide sufficient information/evidence to answer the auditor’s questions. The auditor does not need to research all of the food safety certification options available.

February 16th, 2024 at 10:15 am