Costco Produce Food Safety Audit Expectations and Addenda

Here we present the latest edition of the Costco Produce Food Safety Audit Expectations and Addenda. Changes below were effective April 17, 2019. We encourage you to read the Expectations and Addenda thoroughly as well as the June 1, 2018 letter reflecting changes to supplier audit management structure, written by the Costco staff.

Summary of changes relevant to GLOBALG.A.P. and our CBs:

 April 17, 2019 updates:

New layout of the expectations: produce expectations are further defined in the “ Produce Audit Requirements” section.

Water testing criteria: facilities required to test for generic e. coli rather than "Coliforms".

Product testing and test & hold programs: E. coli 0157:H7 is no longer a required pathogen (e.g. cantaloupe).

Approved supplier programs: are required of all facilities (including those with only fresh produce).

Allergens: several additions/clarifications to allergens lists per country including updated labelling requirements.

GMPs: at handwashing sinks, soap dispensers required to be "hands-free".

Product traceability: companies can use /QR-code as a scannable bar code for traceability and recalls.

Product traceability: all bagged salads and leafy green products must be labeled with the harvest region and the pack date. 

Re-audit criteria: the addition that a product recall, serious incident, or Costco concern will initiate an immediate Costco GMP audit - conducted independent of the anniversary audit timeline and without impact to GFSI Certification, if applicable.

Re-audit criteria: for Grower, Harvest Crew and Greenhouse audits must be conducted within 30 days of the original audit date.

There were no changes to the field-packed commodities or fresh produce packinghouse, cooler, etc. addendums.

June 1, 2018 changes:

Choice of standard: in addition to IFA and PSS, HPSS may be an accepted audit for fresh produce (but not for post-harvest) if it is allowed by the packing facility.

Choice of CB: growers without on-farm packed products can use any CB of their choice, if it is allowed by the facility.  For on-farm packed commodities, the Costco approved CB list applies (see the list in Costco Produce Food Safety Audit Expectations, page 6).

Sampling of groups: the sampling for group audits is under certification program rules. There will be no additional Costco sampling.  The exception is for producers with multiple commodities, for which CBs must make an effort to make a representative sampling per commodity.

Costco oversight: Costco will review and oversee the following operations:

  • facility audits (packinghouses, processors, coolers, etc.),
  • in-field (on-farm) packing operations. Costco Produce Addendum for Field-Packed Commodities is still required for GLOBALG.A.P. audits for producers with on-farm packing.

Facility oversight: facilities are responsible to oversee grower audits (without on-farm packing) as part of the supplier management program. These audit reports and certificates must still be entered into Azzule, but no Costco addendum is required.

Costco Produce Addendum for Field-Packed Commodities: now combines the Harvest Crew Addendum and Growing Area Addendum.

Harvest Crew Addendum: audits must be conducted during harvest.