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India clarifies GM-Free Certification for imports

India clarifies GM-Free Certification for imports
Photo: Gurukrupa Corporation, India

On February 8, 2021, the Indian government’s Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) clarified that the implementation of the requirement for a Genetically Modified-Free Certificate for imported food products will apply to all consignments with a bill of lading dated March 1, 2021, and or after. The clarification further informs stakeholders about the permissible tolerance limit for the adventitious presence of genetically modified organisms (i.e., genetically engineered) at one percent. Earlier in its order of August 21, 2020, the FSSAI listed 24 food crops that are subject to this requirement: 

1) Alfalfa 

2) Apple 

3) Argentina Canola

4) Bean 

5) Chicory 

6) Cowpea 

7) Egg Plant

8) Flax Seed 

9) Maize 

10) Melon 

11) Papaya 

12) Pineapples 

13) Plum

14) Polish canola 

15) Potato

16) Rice 

17) Safflower 

18) Soybean 

19) Squash 

20) Sugar beet 

21) Sugarcane 

22) Sweet pepper 

23) Tomato

24) Wheat

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GLOBALG.A.P. delays launch of new IFA standard

GLOBALG.A.P. delays launch of new IFA standard © GLOBALG.A.P.

Workflow of the new version of the Integrated Farm Assurance Standard © GLOBALG.A.P.

 

GLOBALG.A.P. has decided to postpone the launch of version 6 of the Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) Standard until 2022 in light of the ongoing pandemic.

According to a statement issued by the certification body: “We have seen a very successful first round of public consultation. Hundreds of people have taken part in our ongoing World Consultation Tour and we have received over 1000 comments. Nevertheless, the coronavirus pandemic has hindered participation from many important parties, such as certification bodies and focus groups. Rather than launch a standard which is not fully consulted and tested, the GLOBALG.A.P. Board has decided to extend the timeline of development. The extension will allow more time for stakeholders to give their input and more time for sufficient testing. Field trials, which are critical for testing the new approach on farm level and assessing its audibility before the launch, and a third public consultation period will take place in 2021.”  

The launch of version 6 was originally planned for September 2021, with obligatory implementation as of September 2022. The timeline has now been extended as follows: The second draft will be available for the second consultation phase in December 2020. The second round of the World Consultation Tour will also begin in December 2020 and continue into the new year. The field trials – originally planned for December 2020 to Jan 2021 – will take place in May to June 2021, alongside an additional public consultation period (#3).

Version 6 will be finalised and published in April 2022, with the usual transition period of one year. It will therefore become obligatory in April 2023.

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Colombia promotes environmental and social sustainability certifications

Colombia promotes environmental and social sustainability certifications
Photos: ProColombia

“Today, the global trends suggest that sustainability in the life cycle of agri-food products must be shared by all links in the chain, by producers, industry, distribution channels and the consumer. In this sense, at ProColombia, we encourage the different agro-food exporting sectors of Colombia to gain environmental and social sustainability certifications, since international consumers and clients are increasingly aware of the importance of respecting the environment, natural resources. and, of course, people and animals,” said Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia.

Two sectors that are heading in this direction are bananas and avocados. In Colombia, bananas are the third-largest agricultural export item after coffee and flowers, with shipments of more than 101 million 18.14 kg boxes in 2019, of which 79% went to the European market, 15 % to the United States, and the remaining 6% to smaller markets, where there has been a growing culture of sustainable consumption.

Bananas, a fair crop

The Colombian banana has several differentiating factors, including the organisation of the sector into unions. The main ones are AUGURA and ASBAMA, representing about 85% of the production for export. Likewise, there is a high level of compliance with certifications and voluntary sustainability standards (Voluntary Sustainability Standards -NVS14). In the agricultural sector, NVS are standards developed at the local, national or international level by public and private sector organisations for environmental and social improvements that promote sustainability throughout the value chain. In the banana sector, they define the criteria that the certified product or organisation must meet, often resulting in an identifiable seal for consumers. Linked to this is respect for workers’ rights. Employers and unions in the sector have opted for peaceful dialogue as a form of negotiation, with fair and transparent worker-employer relations, high levels of formalisation, as reflected in decent working conditions, such as the right to unionise, high wages, guarantees regarding housing, education, health, social security, and collective bargaining agreements, among others. Lastly, the sectors have made investments in the social development of communities and undertaken actions to take care of the environment.

Increased exports and certifications for avocados

As for the Colombian avocado, there has been unprecedented growth in recent years. While exports amounted to just US$107,918 (56 tons) in 2010, by 2019, sales abroad totalled US$89.1 million (44,570 tons). Between January and September 2020, exports of this fruit reached US$95 million, +34% compared to the same period of the previous year, and thus exceeding all exports for 2019. However, there has not only been an increase in exports, but also in the pace of certification. According to figures from NaturaCert, in 2019, 20,000 hectares of avocado were certified worldwide with the Rainforest Alliance seal, and Colombia had one of the highest growth rates: in 2018, it had 241 certified hectares, but by the end of 2019, it had almost 1,000 hectares. As for GLOBALG.AP, in 2019, there were around 700 certified avocado farms, which represented an increase of 30% compared to 2018. The projection is that this number will continue to grow because international markets, such as Europe and the United States, are concerned that the fruit is grown through sustainable practices and demand these certifications. Furthermore, in Colombia, irrigation systems are rare thanks to the fertile nature of the land, and the carbon footprint in terms of planting trees is positive.

These advances in compliance with national and international parameters have encouraged the Corporation of Avocado Producers and Exporters (Corpohass) to present a pilot plan for the creation of its own label, “Sustainable Hass”, which promotes sustainability among the various entrepreneurs involved in Hass avocado production, packaging and marketing. Thus, the body becomes one of the first to voluntarily orient itself towards a sustainability strategy.

For Jorge Enrique Restrepo, executive director of Corpohass, “The creation of a referential seal with a sustainable approach is a commitment to improve the competitiveness of the Hass avocado. The implementation of Sustainable Hass will allow the sector to continue generating and sharing value for stakeholders throughout the chain. We believe it is important to start setting an example in sustainable practices to continue to establish this product, even more so when our higher purpose is precisely to lead the sustainability of the Colombian Hass avocado agribusiness.”

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Hinojosa optimises environmental management with FSC Multisite certificate

Hinojosa optimises environmental management with FSC Multisite certificate

Hinojosa has become one of a select few Spanish companies to achieve the FSC Multisite certificate, the result of a significant effort in transparency and environmental management for the entire group. This certificate endorses in a unified way the sustainable origin of the paper that it uses in its plants. The certification guarantees customers that all of the group’s plants meet the same requirements.

The purpose of the FSC Multisite certificate is for companies with different production sites to have a single traceability management system for the origin of their raw materials. In this way, synergies between the different plants are exploited, administrative procedures are unified and simplified, and costs are minimised by having centralized management of these processes. Thus, instead of having a certificate for each of the group’s plants, from now on there will be only two, one for the packaging factories and the other for the paper factories.

This remarkable feat has been achieved during the current lockdown, which has meant an extra effort for both the certifier and Hinojosa. In fact, for example, most of the audits have been carried out electronically.

More and more brands are transferring to Hinojosa the need to guarantee the sustainable origin of their packaging. Despite the fact that most of the group’s plants already had this certificate individually, from now on internal control is increased, the traceability of raw materials is improved, and it is also endorsed for customers, that all the factories of the group have the same level of environmental demand.

FSC is an independent, non-profit, and non-governmental organisation created to support the environmentally sound, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests. FSC’s vision is for the world’s forests to meet the social, ecological and economic needs and rights of present generations without compromising those of future ones.

 

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Coalition files lawsuit to prevent soilless agriculture from receiving organic certification

Coalition files lawsuit to prevent soilless agriculture from receiving organic certification © Réussir Fruits et Légumes

© Réussir Fruits et Légumes

 

The US Center for Food Safety filed a lawsuit with a coalition of organic farms and stakeholders challenging the US Department of Agriculture’s decision to allow hydroponic operations to be certified organic. According to Planetwatch, the lawsuit contends that hydroponic operations violate organic standards because they fail to build healthy soils and asks the court to stop the USDA from allowing hydroponically-produced crops to be certified. The US is one of the few countries that will allow hydroponics to be certified organic. Mexico, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and 24 European countries all ban hydroponic vegetable production to be labelled organic. 

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the body assigned by Congress to advise the USDA, has repeatedly asked the USDA to ban organic certification of hydroponics. The NOSB recommended in 2010 that hydroponics be prohibited from organic certification. The USDA continues to ignore that recommendation. In January 2019, the Center for Food Safety filed a legal petition asking the USDA to ban hydroponics from organic certification. The USDA denied the request that same year.

The lawsuit claims that denying the petition violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Organic Foods Production Act, which requires farmers to build soil fertility to obtain organic certification. Hydroponic crops are grown without soil using water-based nutrient solutions. Synthetic salts are the most common nutrients used in hydroponics, and most of them are not allowed in products certified organic.

“Healthy soil is the foundation of organic farming,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. “Organic farmers and consumers believe that the Organic label means not just growing food in soil, but improving the fertility of that soil. USDA’s loophole for corporate hydroponics to be sold under the Organic label guts the very essence of Organic.”

The basis of organic agriculture is to feed the soil, not the plant. Dave Chapman of Long Wind Farm told Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont: “Organic farming is based on enhancing and cultivating the wonderful balance of the biological systems in the soil. It isn’t just about replacing chemical fertilizers with natural fertilizers.”

One of the objections to hydroponics is that it relies heavily on fertilisers. Oregon Tilth Certified Organic states that hydroponics relies on large volumes of soluble fertilisers with little nutrient cycling. Commercial hydroponic growers will rarely reveal the fertilisers they use, according to the Texas Organic Research Center. Another objection is that hydroponics use chemicals, which organic producers are prohibited from using.

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Covid Food Protocol brand launched

Covid Food Protocol brand launched © Sanitex
© Sanitex

 

Leading consultancy firm for the agri-food sector, Sanitex Seguridad y Calidad Alimentaria SL, has designed and registered a Covid Food Protocol brand, which certifies the implementation and application of a protocol against Covid-19 in accordance with scientific evidence, regulations and recommendations of health authorities such as WHO or the Ministry of Health.

This certification, focused on the food service channel and the agri-food industry, aims to verify compliance with the Covid-19 prevention and control protocols in companies, and thus be able to offer security guarantees in the production, transport and marketing of food to health authorities, customers or end consumers.

Given the extraordinary situation generated by the health crisis, it is essential to demonstrate to customers that the appropriate measures are taken to reduce the risks of virus transmission, with the aim of restoring their confidence and reactivating the economy.

For this reason, through scheduled audits, Sanitex auditors, with extensive experience and experts in food safety, evaluate the implemented protocol and its application in the company, checking aspects such as cleaning, disinfection or prevention measures in both hospitality and restoration, as well as in the food industry, logistics, schools, supermarkets or small businesses and tourist accommodation, among others.

Ricard Calatayud Calatayud, veterinarian and partner of Sanitex, said: “Our certification differs from the names of ‘Covid Free’ or similar, since they do not certify non-compliant conditions or that could generate a false sense of security.”

One of the main novelties of this certification, compared to other existing ones, is that its implementation includes a follow-up by the auditors to verify that the protocol continues to be complied with after some time of its implementation.

“In addition, these are protocols that are continually under review, based on new recommendations from health authorities, new applicable regulations and results of all the scientific tests that are taking place,” said Calatayud. For this, a communication channel has been established through which clients are updated on the updates that should be made in said protocols after changes in legislation and recommendations.

As experts in food safety and quality, those responsible for the Covid Food Protocol Brand take into account the specific characteristics of the agri-food sector, in such a way that its implementation not only means a greater contribution of safety to customers, workers and suppliers; It also affects an increase in confidence and credibility in the management against the virus and a position against the competition, among others.

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GLOBALG.A.P. Remote Kicks into Action

Global value chains: how is COVID-19 affecting fresh produce?

The first certificates have now been issued for inspections carried out via GLOBALG.A.P. Remote. This comes after the launch of the COVID-19 emergency measure on 15 May 2020.

GLOBALG.A.P. Remote was introduced as a response to the coronavirus crisis, which caused lockdowns and social distancing measures that hinder traditional inspections. While restrictions have been lifted in some countries, the GLOBALG.A.P. Remote option is helping those producers in regions still heavily affected by COVID-19. GLOBALG.A.P. Remote is available to producers in regions with travel restrictions at no extra cost.

The implementation phase

Before publishing, GLOBALG.A.P. Remote underwent an expedited consultation phase to ensure that the product created was not only suitable, but could also be implemented quickly. To aid certification bodies in implementing GLOBALG.A.P. Remote, a series of webinars was hosted on the topic.

And it hasn’t taken long for the remote option to be adopted. Following remote inspections that took place between 15 May and 16 June, the first certificates have now been issued in Europe, Asia, and South America . A total of 13 different certification bodies were engaged in 22 remote inspections covering 466 producers and a variety of GLOBALG.A.P. products – the Integrated Farm Assurance standard for Fruit and Vegetables, the GRASP add-on, and the Chain of Custody standard in version 6.

Looking to the future

As regards the future, GLOBALG.A.P. Remote will remain an option for producers and certification bodies for as long as there are lockdowns in place. GLOBALG.A.P. remains committed to finding solutions to support its producers, certification bodies, and retail/supplier members during this uncertain period.

Find more information on GLOBALG.A.P. certfication during the COVID-19 Pandemic here.

GLOBALG.A.P. published a free public webinar on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on GLOBALG.A.P. certification options and procedures. It provides an overview of the existing GLOBALG.A.P. emergency procedures and the new GLOBALG.A.P. Remote option.

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The GLOBALG.A.P. Tour stops off at Tucumán

The GLOBALG.A.P. Tour stops off at Tucumán

 

After 6 years, the certifier returns to Argentina to complete its 2019 Tour.

The province of Tucumán is the smallest in Argentina, but ranks 9th in terms of wealth generation, thanks to its excellent exportable offer, which is highly diversified, with 170 products exported to 160 countries. This is why Tucumán was chosen as the venue for the most recent edition of the GLOBALG.A.P. Tour. The first day featured conferences relating to various topics concerning production management and quality certification. The second day included field visits to companies such as Citrusvil and Tierra de Arándanos. The tour event focused on the economic benefits of good agricultural practices and introduced the latest GLOBALG.A.P. solutions, such as GLOBALG.A.P. add-ons, the Farm Assurer Program, the localg.a.p. program, GLOBALG.A.P. Livestock certification, the GLOBALG.A.P. traceability system, and the GLOBALG.A.P. FSMA PSR add-on to address the implications of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Good Agricultural Practices certification
is synonymous with competitiveness

In Argentina today, there are 608 companies with GLOBALG.A.P certification, and this figure is increasing. This is why the certifier partnered with the Tucumán Productive Development Institute (IDEP) to promote the products, services and benefits offered by both organisations. IDEP executive director, Dirk Trotteyn, said: “Our companies that adopt high production standards not only address aspects of food safety, but also respect and care for environmental resources, as well as the well-being of their workers.”

Vice-president of GLOBALG.A.P., Flavio Alzueta, stressed the importance of companies and producers addressing international market trends to meet a food demand that is increasingly aligned with quality and sustainability. “GLOBALG.A.P. is a platform that opens doors to compete in the main markets. Having this certification makes us more competitive. Argentina has great proactive professionals who do things well and conscientiously. There is room to grow our exports. At the same time, we must close the gap at the local level, where only 13% of fruits and vegetables are sold in the formal channel, with the rest sold informally,” said Alzueta.

IDEP launches
the “Tucumán Brand” Quality Seal

The GLOBALG.A.P. Tour was the ideal framework within which to launch the “Tucumán Brand” Quality Seal. Although the territory brand was created over 10 years ago, this latest launch offers new horizons to explore its full potential. The seal is a powerful tool that stimulates continuous improvement while also promoting values ​​linked to the sustainability of organisations. IDEP has been the main driver in building the Quality Seal and promoting its continuous improvement. It targets companies linked to primary production, the industrial sector, services, and public administration. There are currently more than 550 Argentine companies that are licensees of this hallmark.

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IFS to launch specific standard for fresh fruit & veg

“This future standard is to become the one applied for fruit and vegetables, since IFS was created for food processing companies in general,” said IFS CEO Stephan Tromp

A new protocol has just been released to carry out unannounced IFS audits, besides carrying out certification audits, in order to check on the continuous compliance of individual certified companies with the standards.

By the summer of 2016 the release of a new, specific standard for wholesalers and fruit and vegetable packing companies is also planned.

“This future standard is to become the one applied for fruit and vegetables, since IFS was created for food processing companies in general,” said IFS CEO Stephan Tromp.

IFS is also working on wide-ranging guidelines for pest control management.

“This is a huge subject and different approaches and methods exist on pest-control, but we want to respond to the new EU legislation,” he said.

Furthermore, IFS is working on a new protocol to be published on unannounced food checks made by IFS itself on foreign certification bodies.

More than 1,000 audits are conducted every year, leading to the conclusion that 95% of the auditors work properly and 5% are failing for one of three reasons: hygiene (HACCP standards), foreign body management or pest control.
 

This article first appeared in edition 143 (May/June 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue here: www.eurofresh-distribution.com/magazine/143-2016-mayjune

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Spinneys, the Premier Supermarket Retailer in the Middle East, Joins GLOBALG.A.P. as a Member

Spinneys, the Premier Supermarket Retailer in the Middle East, Joins GLOBALG.A.P. as a Member.

Fine Fare Food Market LLC, which operates Spinneys, the premium supermarket retailer in the Middle East, has become the first in the region to join GLOBALG.A.P. as a retail member. This is in line with the company’s strategic decision to support a sustainable sourcing policy in order to benefit their farming partners, the environment, and their customers.

The company operates hypermarkets and supermarkets in Qatar, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and, through a franchise agreement, 30 stores in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). GLOBALG.A.P. Membership confirms the company’s commitment to supporting initiatives that assure sustainable and safe products for consumers.

By December 2015, Spinneys UAE plans to import only GLOBALG.A.P. certified fruits and vegetables from South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya, and Europe. In 2016, the retailer will expand its sourcing policy and work with producers from other countries, including Sri Lanka, Australia and USA, to help them achieve GLOBALG.A.P. Certification.

“We welcome Spinneys as a member in our GLOBALG.A.P. Community,” said Kristian Moeller, CEO of GLOBALG.A.P. “This move will make GLOBALG.A.P. certified produce available also to consumers in the Middle East ‎and opens up a very interesting market for certified producers.”

First established in 1924 by Arthur Spinneys in the suburbs of Alexandria Egypt, Spinneys sold high quality fresh produce, grocery, and baked goods at a fair price and in a fresh and friendly shopping environment. By 1960, it had grown into a chain and succeeded in opening additional retail outlets in Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan and supplying food for petrol exploration teams across the Gulf region.

Spinneys opened its doors in Lebanon’s old Beirut Souks in 1948, followed by additional stores in various parts of the country in the 1970s, but unfortunately the stores closed due to the civil war at that time. Thirty years later, Spinneys pioneered the concept of a hypermarket in Lebanon and re-opened its doors in 1998 through one big store and seven other standalone outlets, in addition to regional expansion in the Middle East.

Spinneys was ranked one of the world’s 50 best grocers by UK based retail magazine The Grocer in 2013.

source: GLOBALG.A.P. media release