Whole Foods Market became a GLOBALG.A.P. retail member in August.
With over 420 locations in North America, the Texas-based grocery chain focuses on providing a wide range of natural food, health and household products to consumers and now also operates 9 stores in England and Scotland.
According to a GLOBALG.A.P. press release, Whole Foods Market requires that all produce vendors and their suppliers operate using risk-based food safety plans created after performing a risk assessment to identify potential food safety hazards.
Additionally, it requires that vendors of high-risk produce (such as salads, melons and green onions) have a 3rd party food safety audit, preferably to GFSI-recognised schemes, including GLOBALG.A.P’s Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA-Crops-Fruit & Veg) and Produce Safety Standard (PSS).
Last year the chain introduced Responsibly Grown, an innovative, tiered rating system that assesses growing practices based upon their impact on human health, environmental sustainability, water conservation and worker welfare. It labels fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers as ‘good’, ‘better’ or ‘best’ to help shoppers make more informed choices, and prohibits some of the most hazardous neurotoxins still allowed in agriculture.
“GLOBALG.A.P. has worked with Whole Foods Market to benchmark its IFA standard to the Responsibly Grown system to identify overlapping requirements and simplify compliance for IFA-certified producers. We are currently exploring ways to further develop a streamlined audit process for growers seeking IFA certification and a verified Responsibly Grown rating,” GLOBALG.A.P. said.
Whole Foods Market’s Responsibly Grown team leader Robin Foster said Responsibly Grown was launched with the goal of addressing some of today’s most critical agricultural issues and to reward growers taking major steps to protect human health and the environment. “We’re proud to be working with partners like GLOBALG.A.P. to address these important issues, benchmark achievements and raise the bar across the industry,” Foster said.
GLOBALG.A.P. sustainability consultant Roberta Anderson said the partnership with Whole Foods Market is a great example of GLOBALG.A.P.’s commitment to developing efficient, pragmatic approaches to food safety and sustainability assurance. “The more we can do to acknowledge similarities in standards, the better we can eliminate unnecessary duplication of efforts, saving both time and money for growers,” she said.