Access to a global food market broadens our palates and provides additional nutritional resources. However, not all regions have established food safety practices. People in first world nations are used to buying food that is wholesome and safe, trusting the government to prohibit harmful food products. Still, some people avoid foods produced in other countries due to concerns about its safety. Food certifications are a means of allaying common concerns about the safety of food.
What’s in a Certification?
A food supply chain that stretches around the globe requires a system for compliance with standards that keep the products safe for everyone, no matter where the food comes from.
The Global Food Safety Initiative, or GFSI, has standards monitoring several parts of the food supply chain:
- Food, e.g. produce or meat
- Food packaging and its materials
- Storage practices
- Distribution practices
GFSI programs aim to improve food safety, and thereby consumer confidence in food products via its four main objectives:
- Reducing food safety risks
- Managing food costs by improving efficiency
- Creating consistent and effective global food systems
- Providing an international collaborative platform
There are many certifying groups in the world, each with its own objective.
PrimusGFS certification encompasses:
- Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)
- Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
- Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS)
Primus monitors practices from the field, throughout the storage and distribution stages and to the point at which the food reaches the consumer. Using food technologists and computer programmers, the group offers services in both English and Spanish.
GlobalG.A.P., or the Global Partnership for Good Agricultural Practices, a private sector food safety agency, certifies food products across the globe through voluntary standards. It addresses three main areas of food production:
The GlobalG.A.P. process utilizes over 1,500 trained inspectors and auditors who perform third-party audits. They issue certification in over 110 countries.
Servicio Nacional de Sanidad, Inocuidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria
SENASICA, which translates in English to the National Service of Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety, and Quality, is part of Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture. SENASICA’s mission is to protect Mexico’s agriculture, aquaculture, and livestock resources through sanitary measures. The service promotes certification of systems that work at reducing food contaminants and increasing food quality while facilitating trade of those goods both domestically and internationally.
While México Calidad Suprema works with the Mexican government in its mission, its goal is both national and international in scope. Recognized worldwide, its vision is emphasizing the “quality, safety, hygiene, and good practices of the Mexican agricultural sector,” according to their website.
Having the C-TPAT certification means a company has agreed to work with the United States Customs and Border Protection to:
- Protect the supply chain
- Identify security gaps
- Implement security measures and best practices
- Provide an outline of its existing security measures
- Deal with many aspects of security topics
- Provide plans for specific security measures at all points of the supply chain
The C‐TPAT designation is granted to companies considered to be “low risk” based on their past compliance history, security profile, and the validation of a sample international supply chain.
A Fair Trade certification indicates that those involved in producing the product receive fair payment. Fair trade practices aim to improve the quality of life for those people, many of whom live in economically disadvantaged countries. The items sometimes cost more, but more money goes back to the growers or producers of the products.
- “Natural” has no real meaning. The FDA has no issue with the use of this term on labels as long as the product contains no artificial ingredients.
- “Organic” has various levels of labeling. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic seal requires that the products have been produced without genetic engineering or other methods and overseen by a USDA National Organic Program-authorized certifying agent.
Using verifiable food certification labels makes consumers feel safer about their food choices.
Visit our website for a more in-depth description of Food Certifications.