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A Guide to Certifications in Fresh Produce Distribution

Obtaining certifications can allow produce distributors to remain competitive in the market and adapt to industry standards. Certifications can help with risk management, protecting the distributor and their customers from potential liabilities. They can also increase sales by certifying products as safely-produced, sustainable, organic, kosher, and so on.

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This article will explore the various certifications available in fresh produce distribution and their advantages.

Food safety certifications

Food safety is a primary concern not only for consumers, but regulatory bodies and businesses involved in the industry as well. Standards ensure the safety of food products, and certifications have been developed to ensure they’re properly practiced.

These certifications help businesses establish and implement practices to ensure the quality and safety of food products.

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) is a set of guidelines developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure the safe and sustainable production of fruits and vegetables. 

GAP certification covers various aspects of agricultural production, including soil management, water quality, employee health and hygiene, and pest and disease control.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a systematic approach to potential hazards when producing food.

HACCP certification involves analyzing each step of the production process to identify hazards and establish measures to control them.

Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a benchmarking system for food safety certifications. GFSI recognizes various food safety standards and provides a framework for assessing their effectiveness.

GFSI certification aims to improve food safety and reduce risk by encouraging stakeholder collaboration and promoting the best possible practices.

Safe Quality Food (SQF)

Safe Quality Food (SQF) is a food safety management system that covers all aspects of production throughout the supply chain. 

The SQF certification program includes a comprehensive set of standards for food safety, quality management, and regulatory compliance.

PrimusGFS

PrimusGFS is a food safety certification program that covers various aspects of food production, including agricultural practices, food processing, packaging, and distribution. 

The PrimusGFS certification also includes a set of standards for quality assurance and compliance with regulations.

Good Handling Practices (GHP)

Good Handling Practices (GHP) is a set of guidelines for handling, storing, and transporting food products. 

GHP certification focuses on ensuring that food products are handled hygienically and safely to minimize the risk of contamination and spoilage.

Sustainability certifications

Sustainability certifications are designed to promote environmentally-responsible and socially-conscious business practices. 

These certifications assure consumers that their products have been produced using sustainable and ethical practices. Here are some examples of sustainability certifications.

Rainforest Alliance Certification

The Rainforest Alliance Certification is a certification program that promotes sustainable agriculture and forest management practices. 

The certification process includes assessing operations against environmental, social, and economic criteria. 

This certification is a mark and seal of approval for products that meet these sustainable standards.

Fair Trade Certification

The Fair Trade Certification is a certification program that ensures products have been produced using fair labor practices and environmentally-sustainable methods. 

Certification involves verifying that the products were produced in compliance with Fair Trade International standards, which include fair prices, decent working conditions, and community development.

Other certifications

In addition to the certifications mentioned above, here are some other notable ones.

USDA Organic Certification

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) manages the USDA Organic Certification program.

This program lays out a set of guidelines that define organic production standards in the United States. To be certified, the facility must be assessed and confirmed to meet standards for organic production, handling, and labeling.

Kosher Certification

Kosher Certification is a certification program that certifies that food products meet Jewish dietary laws.

The certification process includes verifying that the ingredients, equipment, and facilities used to produce the food meet specific standards. Products that meet these standards are certified as kosher and display the kosher mark.

Non-GMO Project Verification

Non-GMO Project Verification is a certification program that verifies that products do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). 

Certification involves an assessment and confirmation that the products are produced using non-GMO ingredients and that production facilities meet specific standards. Products that meet these standards are verified as non-GMO and can use the Non-GMO Project Verified mark.

Certification has many benefits

Certifications in fresh produce distribution allow businesses to get ahead in the fresh produce industry, covering food safety, quality control, and logistics. If you’re a fresh produce company, it’s in your best interest to look into getting your business or products certified.