CanadaGAP Certification

  • Overview
  • Benefits of Certification
  • Why Work With NSF?
  • Certification Process

NSF Canada Agricultural Certification Company is one of only a few organizations accredited to certify to CanadaGAP, a national program consisting of food safety standards and a certification system for the safe production, storage, packing, repacking, wholesale and brokerage of fresh fruits and vegetables.

To become certified, participants must comply with food safety requirements that were developed by the horticultural industry and reviewed for technical soundness by Canadian government officials. The operation must also undergo and successfully complete on-farm audits.

CanadaGAP is the first food safety program in Canada to achieve international recognition by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) as a GFSI-benchmarked standard.

Benefits of Certification

CanadaGAP certification applies to fresh fruits and vegetables (including leafy vegetables and cruciferae; potatoes; bulb and root vegetables; asparagus, sweet corn and legumes; fruiting vegetables; small fruit; tree and vine fruit; and greenhouse production). The standard covers these activities:

  • Production – Field and greenhouse activities
  • Packing – The first time that harvested products are put in packaging materials
  • Storage – Before packing, including standalone storage facilities
  • Repacking - Removing packed product from packaging and repacking it into market ready packaging materials (may include sorting and grading activities)
  • Wholesale – Storage and selling of market product
  • Brokerage - Arranging the transaction of produce between a supplier and a buyer

CanadaGAP is a preventive program, based on hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), which implements science-based measures to minimize known food safety hazards and reduce contamination risk.

Several Canadian buyers, including Loblaw Companies Limited, McCain Foods Canada, Simplot Canada and Lamb Weston, are requiring growers to become certified under the CanadaGAP program.

CanadaGAP offers six certification options depending on customer needs. Technical requirements are the same for all options; the differences are the number of organizations certifying, the frequency and type of audits, and the level of recognition:

  • C: Single certification; annual audit; benchmarked to GFSI
  • B: Group certification; annual audits; benchmarked to GFSI; developed based on GLOBALG.A.P.’s group certification scheme
  • A1: Single certification; four-year audit cycle (in years 2, 3 and 4, the operator is required to submit a sworn declaration that the facility continues to comply with CanadaGAP program requirements, accompanied by a self-assessment checklist that is reviewed by the certification body and a random audit program); designed to meet Canadian government requirements
  • A2: Single certification; variable four-year audit cycle (in years 2, 3 and 4, the operator is required to submit a sworn declaration that the facility continues to comply with CanadaGAP program requirements. The declaration is accompanied by a self-assessment checklist that is reviewed by the certification body and a random audit program. If selected for a random audit, the scheduled audit date will be extended to four years from the random audit date, which could result in audit cost savings); designed to meet Canadian government requirements
  • A3: Group certification; three-year audit cycle; developed based on GLOBALG.A.P.’s group certification scheme
  • D: Single certification; annual audit for repackers, wholesalers and brokers; currently undergoing benchmarking to GFSI

The GFSI-benchmarked options (B and C) require annual audits and are recognized globally.

Why Work With NSF?

NSF companies are the leading global certifiers of GFSI benchmarked standards, with exceptional technical expertise, consistently calibrated auditors and ample capacity for a timely path to certification. Backed by more than 70 years of food safety expertise and a current average of 35,000 GFSI certification audits performed annually, we enable companies around the globe to demonstrate compliance with the most recognized food safety standards in the world.

NSF Canada Agricultural Certification Company is one of only a few organizations accredited to certify to CanadaGAP. Our network of highly skilled and experienced auditors helps organizations of all sizes implement complex food safety solutions.

We can help you manage your auditing processes and reduce the risk to your brand.

Certification Process

CanadaGAP certification requires three months’ worth of documentation, or documentation from the start of the current growing season. The certification process follows these basic steps:

  1. Obtain the commodity-specific CanadaGAP manual from the CanadaGAP website
  2. Enroll in the certification program though CanadaGAP (www.canadagap.ca)
  3. Choose your certification body
  4. Undergo an on-site audit
  5. Address any corrective actions (if applicable)
  6. Upon meeting all requirements, receive certification
  7. Undergo ongoing audits to maintain certification

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  • Open Can I still request an audit in 2020?

    We are still actively booking 2020 audits with the assumption that they can be performed onsite. As always, when scheduling your audit, we strive to reach a mutual agreement on audit dates, however as we move through the year, we may experience a lack in flexibility. If you require an audit this year it is best to secure your dates with our scheduling team immediately. As we work with you to book your audit dates, we will require your quick response and commitment, so we can deliver the right audit, with a qualified auditor in a time frame that meets your needs.

    If travel and visitor restrictions continue into Q3 and Q4, we will contact you with approved alternatives to your onsite audit.

  • Open Do I qualify for a remote audit?

    Your site may qualify for a remote audit if it meets the following criteria:

    • The audit being conducted is not the first visit (initial audit) by NSF to the facility.
    • The previous audit conducted at the facility occurred in 2019 and the score of that audit was equal to or greater than 85%.
    • Scope of the current remote audit is the same as the scope of the previous audit.
    • You can confirm your site meets the technology usage requirements
    • Specifying clients must approve of the remote audit process
  • Open Will my customer accept a remote audit? What is the benefit of a remote audit?

    Several major retailers are accepting remote audits during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are conducting remote audits for facilities that manufacture and store food and food packaging, as well as audits involving animal welfare practices.

  • Open When should I book my onsite audit?

    We are currently working to contact all clients with dates for their 2020 audits with the assumption that they can be performed onsite. As always, when scheduling your audit, we strive to reach a mutual agreement on audit dates, however as we move through the year, we may experience a lack in flexibility.

    As we reach out to book your audit dates, we will require your quick response and commitment, so we can deliver the right audit, with a qualified auditor in a time frame that meets your needs.  If you need to submit any production or blackout dates that may fall into your audit boundary window, please contact your Customer Service/Scheduling Representative immediately. We will do our best to work within your guidelines.

    If travel and visitor restrictions continue into Q3 and Q4, we will contact you with approved alternatives to your onsite audit.

  • Open How long can I extend my certification?

    In some cases, Certification Program Owners are allowing extensions up to 6 months. Due to the increased volume of audits expected in the last half of the year, NSF will schedule your onsite audit roughly 60-90 days after your successful Risk Assessment. Your 2021 boundary window will not be reset by the extension granted in 2020, so scheduling your onsite audit as close to your original audit boundary window will help spread out the additional stress of an onsite food safety audit.

  • Open What precautions are your auditors taking before arriving onsite?

    NSF commits that its employees and contractors will take the following steps before, during and after a visit to any client facility in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Where a client or local safety authority issues requirements different from the requirements below, NSF will follow whichever requirement is strictest.

    On a daily basis, our representatives will:

    • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms
    • Check temperatures every morning to confirm no fever (99.5° F /37.5° C or greater
    • Stay home if showing symptoms of COVID-19 or a fever
    • Carry hand sanitizer and use as needed whenever hand washing facilities are not available

    Before entering a client site, our representatives will ask the following 3 questions of the client:

    • Do you have anyone on the premises who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
    • Do you have any specific health and safety control measures NSF needs to be aware of prior to our visit?
    • Are there any local safety requirements NSF needs to be aware of?

    Once at the client site, our representatives will:

    • Always wear a mask, unless (1) providing training, in which case a distance of 2m/6ft will be maintained or (2) a client expressly asks us not to, in writing

    We will bring our own masks; however, we will wear a client-issued mask if requested. Masks will be discarded (if disposable) or washed (if reusable) at the end of the work day. Where possible, commercially available masks will be used; otherwise, self-made masks may be used

    • Leave personal effects in an area separate from cafeterias or other eating areas
    • Sanitize mobile phones or other equipment before entering the client site
    • Wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before beginning work and as needed during the client visit
    • Avoid physical contact with client personnel (no shaking of hands, etc.)
    • Avoid close proximity to client personnel, maintaining a social distance of 2m/6ft where possible, both while actively working and during any breaks

      For example:
      For any document review or similar work to be performed by NSF representatives, we will request a separate workspace if possible. We will not participate in working lunches and will not take breaks in the client’s break room if such room is too small to allow appropriate social distancing.

    After the client visit

    If an NSF representative is diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of a client visit, NSF will immediately notify the client of such diagnosis.

  • Open What is the difference between a desk audit, a remote and a risk assessment?

    Remote audits are not an option for Certified Program Owners (BRC, SQF, IFS, and FSSC). Risk assessments are an option for BRC, SQF, and FSSC and they allow for a 6-month extension. A Risk Assessment consists of a document review and follow-up interviews. It does not result in Non-Conformances.

    Remote audits consist of document reviews, interviews and possible virtual facility tours. A full audit report and non-conformances will be issued.

  • Open What happens to my listing in Repositrak? Will I still be visible as certified on the public directory?

    SQF requires clients to maintain their registration in Repositrak as per section 1.3 of the SQF code. Although NSF is granting extensions to certificates, sites may appear as not-listed on the Repositrak database.

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