U.S – The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) has acknowledged Equitable Food Initiative’s food safety certification, making it the only fresh produce certification that satisfies multiple retail requirements in a single audit.

Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) is a nonprofit certification and worker training program for fresh produce that brings together growers, farm workers, retailers and consumers to transform agriculture and improve the lives of farmworkers.

Major merchants currently recognize EFI as a third-party certification for ethical sourcing and integrated pest management/pollinator health. The addition of a GFSI-recognized food safety certification streamlines the audit process even further.

“Earning GFSI recognition for our certification program is an essential step in creating a one-stop-shop that eliminates the redundancy of multiple audits.

“From our earliest days, EFI has aimed to create a system that raises audit standards while reducing the overall burden of time and cost for growers. Our ongoing partnership with industry stakeholders and now with GFSI is bringing this vision to fruition,”  Peter O’Driscoll, Executive Director of EFI, remarked.

Amalia Zimmerman-Lommel, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce/GoodFarms, affirmed the value of a comprehensive audit, saying, “The demand of multiple standards from different retail buyers quickly creates audit fatigue and is costly and time consuming for farming operations.

She noted that EFI has already alleviated a lot of that burden, reducing dedicated staff time by more than 50% as it relates to audit work.

“EFI certification already satisfies social responsibility requirements for the majority of our retail buyers, and the addition of a GFSI-recognized food safety audit will reduce our number of audits even more,” she said.

As a member of the EFI Standards Committee, the Consumer Federation of America helps create and review EFI standards.

“EFI has always brought value for consumers by bringing everyone to the table. In developing a single audit that drives meaningful benefits for growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumers alike, EFI is poised more than ever to transform agriculture and improve the lives of farmworkers. CFA has been honored to participate in this endeavor,”  commented Thomas Gremillion, Director of Food Policy at CFA.

With the support of EFI’s certification program, farming enterprises have been able to develop an internal culture and a collaborative structure that adapts to shifting demands ever since 2012.

The program has also changed as a result of input from numerous stakeholders in order to meet the demands of various retailers and show suppliers’ adherence to the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices.

The EFI program’s certification body, SCS Global Services, has auditors on the ground who ensure that the EFI requirements are being upheld.

“We are poised to provide highly skilled and trained auditors who can deliver a seamless single audit that brings value to growing operations. Our audits to EFI standards ensure a level of systemwide culture change that will sustain a fresh produce grower through changing requirements,” Kevin Warner, Director, ESG Certifications and Strategy for SCS, said.

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