January 16, 2024

EFI expanding certification offerings to allow customized auditing

Equitable Food Initiative, a nonprofit organization that partners with growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumer groups to increase food supply chain transparency, has expanded its certification offerings.

The new options will allow a customized audit approach, according to a news release. EFI has been certifying farms to its social responsibility, food safety and integrated pest management standards for nearly a decade, earning recognition from the Global Food Safety Initiative in 2022. EFI will continue to offer audits for these three standards but will now also offer audit options designed specifically to reduce time, cost and burdens for grower-shippers, according to the release.

“It has always been a priority for EFI to minimize redundancy in the audit process. Our new customized approach provides flexibility for growers to choose the scope of audit they need to meet their customers’ requirements,” Peter O’Driscoll, EFI executive director, said in the release.

Beginning Feb. 1, grower-shippers will be able to choose whether to include GFSI-recognized food safety and IPM standards in the EFI certification audit. The new options include:

  • Continuing with EFI’s one-stop-shop audit for labor practices, GFSI-recognized food safety and IPM/pollinator health. A new addendum will help growers demonstrate alignment with the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule.
  • Auditing to EFI’s social responsibility and culture of food safety standards but submitting a valid GFSI-recognized food safety certificate from another program in place of completing an EFI food safety audit.
  • Auditing to EFI’s IPM standards to fulfill customer requirements for pollinator health.

“We’ve heard from many growers who would like to pursue EFI certification but already have a GFSI-recognized food safety or IPM certification from another program that they want to maintain,” O’Driscoll said. “As a multistakeholder initiative, EFI is always committed to serving the interests of everyone in the supply chain, and we are happy to offer an approach that strengthens labor standards while building on what growers are already doing. These changes will reduce the time and expense of audits for growers seeking a customized option.”

EFI has helped educate and train worker-manager collaborative teams for 33 grower-shipper companies on more than 80 farming operations, according to the release. Through its certification program, more than 4,000 farmworkers and managers have been trained in problem-solving, communication and conflict resolution strategies.

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