Brampton, Ontario-based retailer Loblaw has asked its Canadian produce suppliers to meet CanadaGAP audit standards or an equivalent benchmark, said Aruna Spears, senior director of quality assurance for produce for Loblaw Cos. Ltd.
Those equivalent standards include GlobalGAP or SQF 1000, sources in Canada said in early March. Spears would not comment about the 1,000-plus store retailer expectations for U.S. suppliers.
"The message we have sent out to our vendors is that we are asking them to, over this coming year and really on annual basis going forward, to be able to comply with the standard," she said in April.
She said the CanadaGAP standard offered a step up from the annual food safety review or audit. "For us, it's moving to a more comprehensive, all-encompassing approach," she said.
"We are our expecting our vendors to work very hard at this and achieve compliance."
Mary Ann Fiori, controller with Mor Gro Inc., Leamington, Ontario, said the greenhouse grower-shipper said food safety demands from Loblaw and other retailers have required extensive documentation for about three years. She said More Gro is CanadaGAP-certified.
"Before you just did it, but now as you do it, you have to document, document, document," she said.
All supervisors have their own departments and are responsible for updating log books every day. Those log books are reviewed when a third-party company performs an audit, she said.
"You get graded by that, the log books and the whole company's operations," she said.
Fiori estimated documentation for food safety purposes takes at least four hours per week.
In Ontario, Fiori said each produce company must present a third-party audit certificate in order to get a marketing license from Ontario Vegetable Growers and to do business with chain stores.
Heather Gale, CanadaGAP National Program Manager at the Canadian Horticultural Council, Ottawa, said Loblaw has been supportive of food safety compliance in the past.