Loblaw seeks CanadaGAP compliance from suppliers

05/27/2009 11:47:00 AM
Tom Karst

In 2006, Loblaw put in place a food safety procurement policy based on food safety standards that were in place prior to the establishment of the CanadaGAP last year.

"This recent announcement takes it to the next step," Gale said in late March.

Spears said suppliers in Canada have not resisted the approach so far.

"A lot of our suppliers were actually asking about (CanadaGAP) in past meetings we had last year, so it is certainly not an overall surprise, and I think a lot of them do welcome the approach we are taking," Spears said in early April.

"I think the tremendous advantage with the CanadaGAP program is that it is being internationally benchmarked to GlobalGAP and GFSI and that gives it the credence that some of the other global benchmark standards have, and I would not see why any other retailers would not also then accept this as an equivalent to GlobalGAP and GFSI."

Spears said that could save growers money.

"Ultimately, I would see this as a way that we would minimize impact on the vendors in terms of being able to bundle their audits, so to speak," she said.

The standard was attractive to Loblaw because it offers more than a simple audit.

"We know once (our suppliers) comply with a standard such as this, we know they have built a comprehensive food safety foundation, so that for us is a positive aspect."

The process

Philip Hunt, food safety consultant with Hunt Food Service Ltd., Calgary, Alberta, said he has worked with greenhouse growers going through the process of CanadaGAP certification.

After heavy early resistance, he said more and more suppliers are becoming certified now that Loblaw is insisting on the standard.

"Everybody is jumping on the bandwagon," he said.

The CanadaGAP certification consists of eight different manuals which apply to different commodities.

"You sign off that you are in compliance with the manual," he said.

A grower goes through the manual and does the necessary paperwork to show that the company is in compliance with the applicable manuals, and then calls for an audit.

The certification, accompanied by annual audits, is valid for four years. After that time, growers have to go through the process again, Hunt said.


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