“Food safety is everyone’s business” … Especially ours!

World Food Safety Day 2022

Established in 2018, World Food Safety Day is marked to address the topics of foodborne risks, food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, and sustainable development, all under the broader concept of food safety. This year, the campaign headline of Safer food, better health draws attention to the impact of food on our health and well-being.

As the campaign guide highlights, “safe food is one of the most critical guarantors for good health”. It is only by ensuring safe and nutritious food for future generations that we can raise healthy, thriving populations who fulfil their potential.
But how do we ensure safe food? We can’t usually tell whether our food is safe just from smelling or looking at it. That’s why we need rules and regulations for how to produce, process, handle, and prepare safe food.

The role of GLOBALG.A.P. in global food safety

A safe food supply chain begins with the safe production of food. For this we need robust, science-based production standards with trustworthy certification procedures, such as those from GLOBALG.A.P.
The flagship Integrated Farm Assurance standard from GLOBALG.A.P. has been helping producers around the world to demonstrate their safe and responsible food production practices for over 20 years. Although the standard has undergone numerous revisions over the last two decades, food safety remains at the heart of the standard requirements, with high compliance enforced.

To ensure that the certification system works effectively and consistently, the GLOBALG.A.P. Secretariat has an integrity program which carries out both targeted and random checks and investigates complaints. Developed as the first of its kind in food certification in 2008, the program embodies our commitment to high standards, taking us one step closer to our vision of a world in which farms are recognized for their efforts to continuously produce enough safe food while safeguarding our environment and the welfare of farming communities.

Current challenges to food safety

The last two years have presented a new problem for food safety and food security – the coronavirus pandemic. With much of the world in lockdown, on-farm certification audits were at times impossible. To deal with this issue, GLOBALG.A.P. – like much of the world – turned to digital solutions: the GLOBALG.A.P. Remote Procedure is an emergency measure which allowed auditors to inspect farms virtually, and issue emergency recertification based on a digital audit. As of 31.10.2021, 2934 certficates have been issued  based on a remote audit.

With a further impact on food supply chains, 24 February 2022 saw the invasion of Ukraine – a country known as the “breadbasket of Europe” due to its position as a key agricultural exporter. The war has pushed prices of the most globally traded food commodities to the highest since FAO records began.
Standing in solidarity with Ukrainian producers and with the intention of alleviating problems in the supply chain, GLOBALG.A.P. offers them the possibility to activate the emergency procedure for certificate validity extension for up to six months. Furthermore, certification bodies that are currently unable to conduct an on-site inspection/audit may conduct the inspection/audit according to the GLOBALG.A.P. Remote Procedure.

With such measures, GLOBALG.A.P. sends the clear message that food safety must remain a top priority, even in times of emergency.

Looking ahead to World Food Safety Day 2023

It is hard to say whether the current challenges will be resolved by the next World Food Safety Day, and even harder to predict what else may come to pass. But at GLOBALG.A.P. we are working to remain resilient and look for innovative solutions where we can. By 7 June 2023 we will implement the newest GLOBALG.A.P. IFA standard (IFA version 6, published 26 April 2022) for new audits, which replaces version 5. The new standard ushers in a new era of certification which embraces continuous improvement on producer level, the use of data for compliance and improvement, as well as improved digital solutions for the sector. Stay tuned!