FAQ for Producers with GLOBALG.A.P. Certificate and Certification Bodies: COVID-19 and Food Safety

We are currently working on the option of remote inspections and audits for certification bodies and producers: IFA Remote. An initial draft of the IFA Remote solution will soon be published, along with an invitation to join a public consultation on the topic. If you already have initial thoughts or suggestions, please send them to us at remote@globalgap.org.

In the meantime, this list of FAQ regarding COVID-19 can help answer your queries regarding GLOBALG.A.P. certificates and mitigation activities.


Where can I find trustworthy information on COVID-19 and food safety, or guidelines specifically for food businesses?

The World Health Organization released interim guidance on 7 April 2020 on COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for Food Businesses: interim guidance.
It addresses issues such as:

  • Awareness of symptoms for workers
  • Use of disposable gloves
  • Social distancing in the work environment
  • Transport of food products
  • Staff canteens
  • COVID-19 illness in the workplace

Additional general resources on the Coronavirus are available under “Helpful Sources” at the Quick Links section on the right side of the GLOBALG.A.P. website.


What happens if a GLOBALG.A.P. certificate is due to expire while travel restrictions are in place and an on-site inspection is not possible?

Contact your certification body (CB) and ask them for an extension of the certificate. GLOBALG.A.P.’s COVID-19 emergency procedure allows for a 6-month extension of the certificate if the CB determines that traveling and performing the on-site inspection is not possible. You will need to re-register with the same CB for the next certification cycle. You are advised to continue with the self-assessment activities as if the certification inspection was going to take place normally.

The option of splitting the inspection into off-site and on-site parts (as described in general regulations Part I, 5.1.2.1; (i) and (ii)) is still possible. The existing rule that there must be no more than four weeks between the off-site and on-site part of the inspection can be extended until the on-site part of the inspection can be completed. The CB may only issue the certification decision once both parts of the inspection have been completed.

 

If a GLOBALG.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) v5.2 certificate that was due to expire in April has been granted a 6-month extension until October 2020, will that extended certificate still be recognized as Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked?

Yes, all GLOBALG.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance v5.2 certificates for Fruit and Vegetables, Aquaculture, or Hop that are issued before 21 May 2020, including their extensions, have GFSI-recognition.

 

Can an IFA v5.2 certificate be extended, but the producer be re-registered and accepted for IFA v5.3-GFS?

A: Yes, it is possible to extend the v5.2 certificate and then issue the certificate for v5.3-GFS once the CB can conduct the inspection for v5.3-GFS.

 

Does the emergency procedure for certificate extensions apply to standards and add-ons such as Chain of Custody, GRASP, NURTURE, etc. as well? 

Yes, it applies to all GLOBALG.A.P. standards and add-ons.

 

Does the emergency procedure for certificate extensions apply to initial inspections as well? 

No, the procedure applies only to extension of certificates that have already been issued. 


Are fully remote inspections/audits allowed when the certificate needs to be recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative? 

No. Currently, inspections/audits and certification decisions issued under GFSI-benchmarked schemes cannot be based on remote inspections/audits alone. GLOBALG.A.P. is looking into alternative, voluntary methods for collecting evidence and will engage stakeholders soon. Watch this space for more information soon!


Can a certificate still be extended for 8 months where the CB has already done the remote inspection/audit, but extension has not yet been registered in the GLOBALGA.P. database? 

No. As of 26 March 2020, only a 6-month extension is allowed. 

 

Are certificate extensions for 8 months that were granted before 26 March 2020 still valid? 

Yes, those extensions remain valid.  

 

Can the timeframe of 28 days for producers to present corrective actions (3 months for initial inspections) be extended? 

Yes. While the timeframes as defined in the general regulations remain valid, within the framework of this emergency procedure, the CB may extend the time allowed to present corrective actions by an additional 28 days (56 days in total, for initial inspection 3 months + 28 days) for justified individual reasons based on circumstances beyond the control of the producer. The producer shall provide proof of not being able to present corrective actions within 28 days.  

 

If a producer has non-conformances, may the 28-day timeframe for CBs to make the certification decision be extended?

No, the timeframe for the CB to make the certification decision within a maximum of 28 days after the closure of any outstanding non-conformances remains valid. 

 

Which GLOBALG.A.P. control points and compliance criteria* are directly affected by the GLOBALG.A.P. emergency procedure due to the Coronavirus?

In future inspections/audits, the inspectors/auditors shall check if the effects of the pandemic were included in the risk assessments (AF 4.1.1, FV 5.1.1) and the necessary measures were taken regarding health and safety (AF 4.1.2 and AF 4.1.3), the necessary training (AF 4.2) to explain and reinforce the measures taken (handwashing and general hygiene and sanitation), and whether the accident and emergency procedures were updated (AF 4.3.1). Inspectors/Auditors shall also check if consideration was given to subcontractor and visitor policies.

*Standard references are made to the AF (All Farm Base) and FV (Fruit and Vegetables) control points and compliance criteria of the GLOBALG.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance Standard.