FAQ IFA Versions and GFSI Recognition

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

Generally speaking, there are three parallel valid versions of IFA, two of which are of interest for producers who need a GFSI-recognized version: 

IFA v5.2: Continues to be valid, but only certificates issued prior to 21 May 2020 have GFSI v7.2 recognition. IFA v5.2 will be replaced when IFA v6 becomes obligatory in January 2024.

IFA v5.3-GFS: Has GFSI v7.2 recognition for audits conducted on or before 21 January 2022 and is replaced by IFA v5.4-1-GFS as the obligatory GFSI standard on 22 January 2022. Audits conducted according to IFA v5.3-GFS on or before 21 January 2022 will be valid and GFSI-recognized for the validity term of the certificate.

IFA v5.4-1-GFS fruit and vegetables: Replaces IFA v5.3-GFS, becoming the obligatory GFSI-recognized standard as of 22 January 2022. This version will be replaced by IFA v6 when v6 has achieved GFSI recognition – estimated Q3-4 2024.

IFA v5.4-1-GFS aquaculture: Replaces v5.3-GFS, becoming the obligatory GFSI-recognized standard as of 1 May 2022. This version will be replaced by IFA v6 when v6 has achieved GFSI recognition – estimated Q3-4 2024.

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). That way, we can help producers whose customers require compliance with a GFSI-recognized standard without changing the standards for those producers whose customers do not have this requirement. IFA v6 follows this same principle, with two parallel editions of IFA v6, one with GFSI recognition and one without (IFA v6 Smart).

2. Which IFA version should a producer choose?

Producers who want to sell to markets requiring GFSI recognition will have to follow the IFA v5.4-1-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 you are ready to transition to IFA v6 (1 January 2024 at the latest).
If you do need a GFSI-recognized certificate:
Select IFA v5.4-1-GFS until IFA v6 GFS has completed its benchmarking and received GFSI recognition (estimated Q3-4 2024).

3. 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. will not issue an obligatory requirement that producers align with GFSI-specific version changes.

The GLOBALG.A.P. technical committees and the GLOBALG.A.P. Advisory 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 , and an inspection of a sample of the group members, irrespective of the individual products from the certified processes. Therefore, IFA v5.2 will remain valid in parallel to IFA v5.4-1-GFS until replaced by IFA v6 on 1 January 2024.

4. 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 of the GFSI v2020 control points and compliance criteria addressed, get certification bodies (CBs) accredited, and acquire 10 accredited certificates and three buyer letters of support before we are able to apply to GFSI for recognition with that standard version (IFA v5.4-1-GFS).

5. Is Option 2 group certification available to producer groups of high-risk products under IFA v5.4-1-GFS?

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

6. Where is the current GLOBALG.A.P. fee table?

The current GLOBALG.A.P. fee table can be found in the GLOBALG.A.P. Document Center.

7. How long will IFA v5.2 be available after May 2020?

Until 1 January 2024.

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

Owners of benchmarked schemes and approved modified checklists can decide for themselves whether to follow the changes in IFA v5.4-1-GFS.

9. How does the change from IFA v5.2 to IFA v5.3-GFS or IFA v5.4-1-GFS affect add-ons?

All add-ons that apply to subscopes of IFA v5.2 continue to apply to the respective IFA v5.3-GFS subscopes 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 IFA v5.4-1-GFS. Customer-specific add-ons will be individually evaluated and updated as necessary.

10. In what languages are checklists and general regulations available?

The GLOBALG.A.P. Document Center includes checklists in a number of languages. Supporting documentation will be translated as per market need.

11. Where can I find the normative documents of IFA v5.4-1-GFS?

All necessary documents are available in the GLOBALG.A.P. Document Center.

12. Which certification bodies are approved for IFA v5.4-1-GFS?

Certification bodies apply to GLOBALG.A.P. to offer IFA v5.4-1-GFS certification, specifying the scopes and subscopes they will offer. Approved certification bodies are listed here.

13. Will national interpretation guidelines and other guidance documents be updated for IFA v5.4-1-GFS?

Yes, as there are content changes in IFA v5.4-1-GFS that require it. National technical working groups will have to update new or modified points accordingly in an updated template within three months of the standard’s becoming obligatory. Additional guidance for CBs will be prepared.

14. Why is GLOBALG.A.P. publishing several new IFA versions (v5.2, v5.3-GFS, v5.4-1-GFS, v6) within such a short timeframe?

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 IFA 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 IFA v5.3-GFS and published this new version in February 2020. IFA v5.3-GFS became obligatory on 21 May 2020 for those requiring a GFSI-benchmarked certificate. All previously issued IFA v5.2 certificates (prior to 21 May 2020) remain GFSI-recognized until their expiration.

The GLOBALG.A.P. Advisory 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 (IFA v5.3-GFS or v5.4-1-GFS), but instead offers it as an option for those who need it to access specific markets. All other producers can continue with IFA v5.2 until IFA v6 becomes obligatory on 1 January 2024.

In February 2020, GFSI published their version 2020. GLOBALG.A.P. had until November 2020 to apply with an IFA version which implemented all the criteria to maintain GFSI recognition.

GLOBALG.A.P. published IFA v5.4-1-GFS for fruit and vegetables on 22 July 2021, with an obligatory date of 22 January 2022. IFA v5.4-1-GFS for aquaculture became obligatory on 1 May 2022.

IFA v5.2 will continue to be valid (but no longer GFSI-recognized) until IFA v6 becomes obligatory on 1 October 2023.

15. Why was there no consultation phase for IFA v5.3-GFS or v5.4-1-GFS?

IFA v5.3-GFS and v5.4-1-GFS were developed in response to changes in the GFSI requirements. The Fruit and Vegetables and Aquaculture Technical Committees were informed of and consulted about the changes that would affect the aquaculture and fruit and vegetables sectors and, although not enthusiastic about the changes, the committees understand that 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 for IFA v6 was completed in 2021.

16. Why do IFA v5.3-GFS and v5.4-1-GFS not completely replace v5.2?

The implications of maintaining GFSI recognition have been discussed in depth by the GLOBALG.A.P. Advisory Board. The GLOBALG.A.P. technical committees and the GLOBALG.A.P. Advisory 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 (IFA v5.3-GFS/v5.4-1-GFS) and a non-GFSI version (IFA v5.2) should be available to allow the industry to choose the farm assurance solution it needs in this transition period. This helps producers who do not need a GFSI-recognized certificate to avoid implementing the changes unnecessarily.