FAQ IFA v5.3-GFS and v5.4-GFS

1. Why did GLOBALG.A.P. develop parallel versions of IFA ?

In summary, there are in general three parallel valid versions of IFA (2 of interest for producers who need a GFSI-recognized version):  

  1. IFA v5.2: continues to be valid but only certificates issued prior to 21 May 2020 have GFSI v7.2 recognition. This version will be replaced by v6.
  2. IFA v5.3-GFS: has GFSI v7.2 recognition and will be replaced by v5.4-GFS in 2021 as soon as it has achieved GFSI recognition.
  3. IFA v5.4-GFS: will be GFSI v2020 recognized in 2021 and will then replace IFA v5.3-GFS.  This version will be replaced by v6 when it has achieved GFSI recognition.

GLOBALG.A.P. is committed to continuously providing a version of the Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) standard that is benchmarked by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). With the introduction of IFA v5.3-GFS and IFA v5.4-GFS in addition to IFA v5.2, GLOBALG.A.P. will offer both a benchmarked and non-benchmarked version of IFA. IFA v5.3-GFS and IFA v5.4-GFS were developed to help producers whose customers require compliance with a GFSI-recognized standard meet their customer requirements, without changing the standards for those producers whose customers do not have this requirement.

2. Which IFA version should a producer choose?

Producers who want to sell to markets requiring GFSI recognition will have to follow the version v5.3-GFS and V5.4-GFS updates, as required according to their renewal schedule. Please see the information below.
If you do not need a GFSI recognized certificate
Select version IFA v5.2 (and renew as necessary) until v6 becomes available.
If you do need a GFSI recognized certificate
Select IFA v5.3-GFS at this time. Select IFA v5.4-GFS once this version has completed benchmarking and received GFSI recognition (2021) until v6 has completed its benchmarking and received GFSI recognition (2022).

3. The IFA version changes are relatively small – do they really matter?

Yes, they matter for markets requiring GFSI although GLOBALG.A.P. maintains that the changes are not needed to provide robust food safety assurance.

4. Will GLOBALG.A.P. maintain a non-GFSI option for IFA?

Yes. IFA v5.2 will still be offered but will not have GFSI benchmark status for any certificates issued after May 2020. Many producers under GLOBALG.A.P. certification across the world have markets that do not adhere to GFSI, so GLOBALG.A.P. does not wish to force these producers to align with version changes that do not increase food safety or add value to their supply chains, particularly if those version changes increase external auditing burden on producer groups for high-risk products. The GLOBALG.A.P. technical committees and the GLOBALG.A.P. Board maintain their confidence – backed by the GLOBALG.A.P. Integrity Program – in the comprehensive control points and robust rules of group certification, annual external audit of the quality management system (QMS), and an inspection of a sample of the group members, irrespective of the individual products from the certified processes. Therefore, IFA v5.2 will be operational in parallel to IFA v5.3-GFS and IFA v5.4-GFS.

5. What does GFSI require of a certification program owner like GLOBALG.A.P.?

GFSI periodically releases new versions, at which time re-benchmarking is required for each scheme. With the release of GFSI v2020 in February 2020, certification program owners like GLOBALG.A.P. are given nine months to apply and are required to treat all applications as new and not renewals. This means that GLOBALG.A.P. must develop a new version of its standard with all the GFSI v2020 control points and compliance criteria addressed, get CBs accredited, and acquire 10 accredited certificates and three buyer letters of support before we are able to apply to GFSI for re-recognition with that standard version (IFA v5.4-GFS).

6. What are the content changes from IFA v5.2 to v5.3-GFS?

Here is a summary of the changes (these are also listed in the version/edition update register of every document): 




General Regulations Part I  

5.2 table  

5.3.2 d)  

5.2.3 e) (iii)  

Clarification text – group certification of high-risk products where CBs need to inspect every producer member  

General Regulations Part II  


Clarification of the annual management review  

General Regulations Part III  

5.4.21 a) 

Clarification text on group certification of high-risk products  

Crops Rules   

4.1.2 (ii)  


Clarification text on group certification of high-risk products  

Control Points and Compliance Criteria – Hop  


New point on approved suppliers  


New point – Environmental Monitoring Plan  

7. What are the content differences between IFA v5.2 and v5.3-GFS for Fruit and Vegetables or Aquaculture producers under Option 1 individual certification?

There are no changes to the standard that producers need to implement, however; there are stronger controls in place regarding the sign-off of the inspector by the certification body.

8. What are the content differences between IFA v5.2 and v5.3-GFS for Hop producers under Option 1 individual certification?

IFA v5.3-GFS includes two new control points for Hop producers: one on approved and unapproved suppliers (HO 1.3.1) and one on an environmental monitoring plan (HO 4.4.6).

9. What are the content differences between IFA v5.2 and v5.3-GFS for producers under Option 1 multisite with QMS and producer groups under Option 2 certification?

The biggest impact of the changes made for IFA v5.3-GFS is on these producers. In an Option 1 multisite with QMS or Option 2 scenario, producers and/or sites with high-risk products shall be included in an annual inspection schedule. No sampling can take place and the products need to be inspected annually. This is also true for all packhouses that handle high-risk products.  
In addition, more emphasis is put on the annual management review, where food safety resources, the status of actions from previous management reviews, external and internal changes that are relevant to the QMS, and effectiveness of the QMS are reviewed. Evidence of this management review shall be available and verified by the certification body auditor.

10. What are the content changes from IFA v5.3-GFS to v5.4-GFS?

Option 2 is available as usual for producer groups organized with a centralized QMS. However, every producer growing high-risk products must inspected by the CB.
IFA v5.4-GFS includes only the Aquaculture scope and the Fruit and Vegetables sub-scope.  

Updated versions of the following documents are available: 

  •  General Regulations (GR) Parts I, II and III  
  •  QMS checklist according to the GR Part II (to be published later) 
  •  Aquaculture Rules (no changes were made in content) 
  •  Crops Rules  
  • Each module of the control points and compliance criteria (CPCC) of the Fruit and Vegetables sub-scope (and accordingly in the checklist)  
  • Each module of the control points and compliance criteria (CPCC) of the Aquaculture scope (and accordingly in the checklist). 

The changes are summarized at the end of each document in the Version/Edition Update Register table. 
Two documents have been published summarizing the CPCC changes for Fruit and Vegetables and for Aquaculture.

Summary of Changes IFA v5.3-GFS_to_v5.4-GFS CPCC_FV.pdf

Summary of Changes IFA v5.3-GFS to v5.4-GFS CPCC AQ.pdf

One document has been published highlighting traceable changes in the General Regulations (GR) Part I.-II.-III.

11. Is there a defined high-risk product listing?

High-risk products include, but are not limited to: fresh herbs, leafy greens, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula/rocket, berries, cantaloupe melons. Please see the ‘GLOBALG.A.P. Product List’ for more details.

12. Is Option 2 group certification available to producer groups of high-risk products under IFA v5.3-GFS?

Option 2 is available as usual for producer groups organized with a centralized QMS. However, every producer growing high-risk products must inspected by the CB.

13. In Option 2 producer groups of high-risk products with add-ons (e.g., GRASP): Must all producer group members be included in the external audit/assessment of the add-on?

Unless specified otherwise in the General Rules of the Add-on, the IFA General Rules of sampling applies

14. What is the fee difference between IFA v5.2 and v5.3-GFS and v5.4-GFS?

Higher producer registration fees and certificate license fees will apply for IFA v5.3-GFS and v5.4-GFS from 1 June 2020 onward. Before 1 June 2020, the fees will remain the same as for IFA v5.2. The new fees are included in the updated GLOBALG.A.P. fee table (see: ‘GFSI-Recognized GLOBALG.A.P. Standards: Crops’ and ‘GFSI-Recognized GLOBALG.A.P. Standards: Aquaculture’). There is no change in the GLOBALG.A.P. North America fee table. 

15. When will an IFA v5.2 certificate no longer have GFSI recognition?

Any IFA v5.2 certificate issued prior to 21 May 2020 will be GFSI-recognized until the certificate expires. Certificates issued to IFA v5.2 from 21 May 2020 and later will not be GFSI-recognized. Thus, in order to maintain GFSI recognition, producers must choose the GFSI-benchmarked option based on the timing of their certification cycle.  
Other producers – those who do not need GFSI compliance – may choose between IFA versions.  
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16. How long will IFA v5.2 be available after May 2020, or is there no end date?

IFA v6, which will allow for both GFSI and non-GFSI options (published in September 2021, obligatory from September 2022) will replace IFA v5.2, v5.3-GFS, and v5.4-GFS..

17. Will producers need to interrupt their current certification cycles in order to maintain a GFSI-recognized certificate?

No. Producers should not have to adjust their certification cycle.

18. How does the version change affect benchmarked schemes and approved modified checklists?

Benchmarked schemes and approved modified checklists may decide for themselves whether to follow the changes in IFA v5.3-GFS and IFA v5.4-GFS

19. How does the version change affect other IFA scopes (e.g., Livestock) and sub-copes (e.g., Flowers and Ornamentals, Plant Propagation Material)?

Scopes and sub-scopes not included in GFSI benchmarking will continue under IFA v5.2 and are not affected at all.

20. How does the IFA v5.2 to IFA v5.3-GFS or IFA v5.4-GFS change affect add-ons?

All add-ons that apply to sub-scopes of IFA v5.2 continue to apply to the respective IFA v5.3-GFS sub-scopes as well, because there were no changes to the control points and compliance criteria that affect any of the existing add-ons.
GLOBALG.A.P. add-ons (such as GRASP or SPRING) are not affected by the changes in the IFA v5.4-GFS. Customer-specific add-ons will be individually evaluated and updated as necessary within the period before v5.4-GFS becomes obligatory.

21. Will IFA v5.3-GFS be translated into languages other than English?

 There is no translation planned for the control points and compliance criteria of IFA v5.3-GFS or v5.4-GFS. However, checklists might be translated into selected languages. 

22. What are the differences between IFA v5.2 and v5.3-GFS for certification bodies, inspectors, and auditors?

The 01/2020 technical newsletter for certification bodies explains all the changes from v5.2 to v5.3-GFS, and is available on the GLOBALG.A.P. website here.

The 04/2020 technical newsletter for certification bodies explains all the changes from v5.3-GFS to v5.4-GFS, and is available on the GLOBALG.A.P. website here.

23. Where can I find the normative documents of IFA v5.3-GFS and v5.4-GFS?

Necessary documents are available on the GLOBALG.A.P. website here

24. Which certification bodies are approved for IFA v5.3-GFS and v5.4-GFS?

Certification bodies apply to GLOBALG.A.P. to offer IFA v5.3-GFS and v5.4-GFS, specifying the scopes and sub-scopes they will offer. Approved certification bodies are listed here.

25. Are IFA v5.3-GFS and v5.4-GFS accredited standards?

Yes. IFA v5.3-GFS and v5.4-GFS require re-accreditation for approved certification bodies as an extension of IFA standard accreditation, not new accreditation.

26. Do IFA v5.3-GFS and IFA v5.4-GFS require additional inspector/auditor training?

The requirements for auditor and inspector qualification and training are the same for IFA v5.3-GFS as they are for IFA v5.2, as defined in the general regulations III, Annex III.1 and III.2.

Additional auditor and inspector training is required for v5.4-GFS. See General Regulations Part III, Annex III.1 and III.2 for details. 

27. Will national interpretation guidelines and other guidance documents be updated for IFA v5.3-GFS and v5.4-GFS?

For v5.3-GFS: No, as there are no content changes that affect any of the existing, approved national interpretation guidelines. For the same reason, guidance documents will only be updated as part of the IFA v6 revision process.

For v5.4_GFS: Yes, as there are content changes. NTWGs will have to update new or modified points accordingly in an updated template, within 3 months of the standard being obligatory. Additional guidance to CBs will be prepared.

28. Will there be an indication of GFSI benchmarking on the certificate?

No. GLOBALG.A.P. certificates do not reference GFSI, however, the standard name IFA-GFS indicates that it is a standard that either has recognition or is in process

29. Is an approved Interpretation Guideline (NIG) for IFA v5.2 automatically valid for IFA v5.3-GFS?

The IFA v5.2 NIG is automatically valid for IFA v5.3-GFS, as there have been no changes in the control points and compliance criteria (see Q6). The certificate information will refer to an IFAv5.2/v5.3-GFS NIG.

The IFA v5.2 NIG is not automatically valid for IFA v5.4-GFS. See question 27

30. When is the opportunity for stakeholders to recommend changes to IFA beyond what is required by GFSI?

Stakeholders will be actively engaged throughout 2020 to provide input on v6. Please learn about public consultation opportunities and World Consultation Tour here.

31. What efforts will GLOBALG.A.P. put into place to ensure that IFA and benchmarked and not benchmarked versions are properly differentiated, especially in terms of marketing to the suppliers?

Communication on this subject has been sent to GLOBALG.A.P. Board members, national technical working groups, technical committees, certification bodies, and accreditation bodies. Communications are published on our website, on our new mobile-friendly site globalgapsolutions.org, via social media, and in newsletters. Our technical key account managers around the globe will proactively support certification bodies, industry organizations, and producer groups within their regions to identify the best options.

32. Why is GLOBALG.A.P. publishing new IFA versions (v5.2, v5.3-GFS, v5.4-GFS, v6) within such a short time of one another?
  • New versions of IFA are required to maintain a GFSI recognized option for producers.
  • In February 2019, GLOBALG.A.P. published IFA v5.2 and received GFSI recognition against GFSI version 7.1
  • In November 2019, GFSI reassessed GLOBALG.A.P.'s v5.2 against GFSI version 7.2 and ruled that changes must be made in order to keep GFSI recognition.  
  • Therefore, GLOBALG.A.P. implemented the required changes in v5.3-GFS and published this new version in February 2020.  V5.3-GFS became mandatory on for 21 May 2020 for those requiring a GFSI benchmarked certificate.  All previously issued v5.2 certificates (prior to 21 May 2020) remain GFSI-recognized until their expiration.
  • The GLOBALG.A.P. Board recognizes both the value of GFSI recognition for producers that want to access certain markets, and also the huge impact that these changes have, in particular for producer groups. For this reason, GLOBALG.A.P. does not require all producers to upgrade to a GFSI-recognized version (v5.3-GFS or v5.4-GFS), but instead offers it as an option for those who need it to access markets. All other producers can continue with v5.2 until GLOBALG.A.P. publishes version 6 after full consultation with all stakeholders. 
  • In February 2020, GFSI published their version 2020. GLOBALG.A.P. has until November 2020 to apply with an IFA version which implements all the criteria to maintain GFSI recognition. 
  • GLOBALG.A.P. published v5.4-GFS on 15 July 2020, in order to be ready for this November 2020 application deadline.  GLOBALG.A.P. must demonstrate 10 certificates to v5.4-GFS in order to apply for GFSI benchmarking
  • The IFA v5.3-GFS will keep its recognition as benchmarked against GFSI v7.2 until 3 months after IFA v5.4-GFS has gained GFSI recognition (anticipated first half of 2021).   
  • IFA v5.2 will continue to be valid (but no longer GFSI-recognized) until IFA v6 is published in 2021 and becomes obligatory in 2022.  
33. Why was there no consultation phase for v5.3-GFS or v5.4-GFS?

V5.3-GFS and v5.4-GFS were developed in response to changes in the GFSI requirements. The Crops and Aquaculture Technical Committees were informed/consulted about the changes that would affect the aquaculture and fruit and vegetables sectors and, although not enthusiastic about the changes, the committees understand they are necessary for maintaining GFSI recognition – a solution which GLOBALG.A.P. is committed to offering. Only the necessary changes have been made – nothing more.

An extensive consultation phase is in progress for the new v6.

34. Why does v5.3-GFS not completely replace v5.2?

The implication of maintaining GFSI recognition has been discussed in depth by the GLOBALG.A.P. Board. The GLOBALG.A.P. technical committees and the GLOBALG.A.P. Board remain confident in the robust rules of group certification, annual external audit of the quality management system, and an inspection of a sample of the group members, irrespective of the products. For this reason, it was decided that both a GFSI version (v5.3-GFS/v5.4-GFS) and a non-GFSI version (v5.2) should be available, to allow the industry to choose the farm assurance solution it needs in this transition phase. This helps producers who do not need a GFSI-recognized certificate to avoid implementing the changes unnecessarily.

35. Who decides which products are “high-risk” and according to what classification method?

GFSI requires GLOBALG.A.P. to define which products are high-risk, in order to determine the sampling method for group certification. The GLOBALG.A.P. Product List has been updated in consultation with the Crops Technical Committee and the high risk crops are indicated.