CanadaGAP Certification : Canadian Agricultural Standards

If you are involved in the production, packaging, storage or distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables in Canada, ensuring the quality and safety of your products is essential. CanadaGAP certification, recognized by the Canadian government and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), meets these rigorous standards and offers several benefits for your business.

What is CanadaGAP certification ?

CanadaGAP certification is a certification program focused on the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables in Canada. This program, based on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on-farm food safety guides, is recognized by the Canadian government and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). GFSI is an international organization setting standards for food safety management systems.

This system allows fruit and vegetable companies to prove to their customers that they adhere to the highest safety standards and undergo independent audits annually or every four years. CanadaGAP certification covers multiple aspects of the production and distribution chain, including :

  • Drinking water and irrigation management  
  • Fertilizer and soil amendment management  
  • Pesticide and chemical management  
  • Equipment and tool management  
  • Waste and contaminant management  
  • Worker and visitor management  
  • Product traceability and recall management  
  • Temperature and transportation management  
  • Documentation and records management

The benefits of CanadaGAP certification for fruit and vegetable companies include :

  • Improving product quality and safety
  • Building trust and customer satisfaction  
  • Expanding into new markets, both domestic and international  
  • Minimize risk of contamination and legal disputes  
  • Optimize production practices and reduce costs

Let’s now look at the organizations offering CanadaGAP certification according to specific criteria: the sector of activity, the procedures for obtaining, information on the cost, the duration and the renewal of this certification.

Which organizations offer CanadaGAP certification ?

To obtain CanadaGAP certification, it is necessary to use a certification body authorized by the CanadaGAP program. These entities are responsible for conducting audits, evaluating results and issuing certificates. They operate independently of both CanadaGAP and clients and are internationally accredited by a member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).

They are also subject to the supervision of their accreditation body regarding the conformity of their evaluation and certification operations. To date, six certification bodies offer audit and certification services in accordance with CanadaGAP for all areas covered by this food certification. These bodies are:

Quebec Standards Bureau (BNQ)

The BNQ is a Quebec organization specializing in certification, inspection, testing and normative information services, recognized by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC). It offers CanadaGAP certification services in English and French across Canada and the United States.

Control Union

Control Union is an international certification company active in the agriculture, food, forestry, textile and biomass sectors, accredited by the Dutch Accreditation Council (RvA) and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). It offers CanadaGAP certification services in many countries, including Canada, the United States, Mexico, and many others around the world.

Dicentra

Dicentra, a Canadian certification body focused on food safety, quality, regulatory and compliance, is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It offers CanadaGAP certification services in Canada and the United States.

MSVS

MSVS specializes in food safety, quality, environment, occupational health and safety in Canada and is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It offers CanadaGAP certification services across Canada.

NSF Canada Ag

NSF Canada Ag is a Canadian-based certification organization, part of NSF International, a global leader in public health, food safety and quality, and sustainability. This organization is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It offers CanadaGAP certification services across Canada and the United States.

TSLC

TSLC, another leading Canadian certification body, specializes in food safety, quality, environment, occupational health and safety, social responsibility and risk management. He is also accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This organization offers CanadaGAP certification services across Canada.

Choosing a certification body requires consideration of the various services offered, costs, listener availability, languages spoken and regions covered. For more information, we encourage you to contact the certification bodies directly or visit the CanadaGAP website to view their online register of certified farms.

CanadaGAP certification requirements by industry

CanadaGAP certification, focused on food safety, covers various areas related to fresh fruits and vegetables, including production, packaging, storage, repackaging, as well as wholesale trade and brokerage. Depending on your sector, you will need to adhere to the specific requirements detailed in the CanadaGAP food safety guides.

Currently, CanadaGAP has six food safety guides that address the following :

Food Safety Guide for fresh fruit and vegetable production

Dedicated to producers of fresh fruits and vegetables, including those using greenhouses, hydroponic or organic methods, this guide sets out the standards for the management of water, soil, fertilizers, pesticides, equipment, personnel, visitors, as well as traceability, recall procedures, temperature control and transportation.

It also deals with special requirements for certain crops, such as potatoes, mushrooms, berries, melons, and several types of vegetables (leaves, roots, fruits, stems, flowers) as well as herbs, nuts and nuts.

Food Safety Guide for fresh fruit and vegetable packaging

Targeting entities that package fresh fruits and vegetables, whether on the production site or elsewhere, this guide clarifies the requirements for managing water, chemicals, packaging materials, equipment, personnel, visitors, traceability, recall procedures, temperature and transportation. It also includes specifications for various types of packaging such as washing, sorting, calibration, packaging, weighing, labeling, coding, sealing, palletizing and filming.

Food Safety Guide for fresh fruit and vegetable storage

Intended for companies storing fresh fruit and vegetables, whether they are stored on the production site or in another type of structure, this guide covers standards for the management of water, chemicals, storage materials, equipment, personnel, visitors, traceability, recall procedures, temperature and transportation. Specific requirements for storage forms such as cooling, ventilation, humidification, use of ethylene, controlled or modified atmospheres, freezing and thawing are also addressed.

Food Safety Guide for repackaging and wholesale of fresh fruits and vegetables

This guide is intended for businesses that repackage or wholesale fresh fruit and vegetables, whether in their own facilities or in leased or shared spaces. It defines requirements for the management of water, chemicals, packaging materials, equipment, personnel, visitors, traceability, recalls, temperature and transport. It also discusses standards specific to different types of repackaging and wholesale, including washing, sorting, calibration, packaging, weighing, labeling, coding, sealing, palletizing, filming, as well as acceptance processes, shipping, handling, storage and distribution.

Food Safety Guide for Brokering fresh fruits and vegetables

This guide is designed for companies specializing in the brokerage of fresh fruits and vegetables. In other words, for those who act as intermediaries between producers and consumers, without ever having to physically handle the goods. Inside, you will find all the rules to follow in terms of traceability, recall management, temperature control, and transport.

In addition, it addresses specific requirements related to various aspects of brokerage, including negotiation, contract implementation, billing, payment, verification, inspection and certification processes.

Food Safety Guide for fresh fruit and vegetable production

This simplified version of the Guide on Safety in Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Production is intended for beginning producers or those with less operations, who are looking to learn about CanadaGAP procedures. You will find the basic guidelines concerning the management of water, soil, fertilizer inputs, pesticide use, equipment handling, supervision of employees and visitors, and traceability protocols, recall, temperature and transport. It omits the prerequisites related to specific crops or those recognized by GFSI.

To identify the CanadaGAP Health Guide relevant to your field of activity, a summary table is available on their website. For any assistance, the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ) is available. It provides CanadaGAP certification services in French and English and guides you to the certification option that best suits your situation. The BNQ partners with Yvea, an online tool that facilitates the management of your CanadaGAP certification, offering preferential rates and various additional services.

What are the steps to obtain CanadaGAP certification ?

To obtain a CanadaGAP certification, the following steps are essential :

Step 1 : Get the CanadaGAP Food Safety Guide for your field

View and download the specific CanadaGAP Food Safety Guide for your sector (production, packaging, storage, repackaging, wholesale, or fresh produce brokering) on the CanadaGAP website.

Step 2 : Implement CanadaGAP’s Food Safety Program in your business

Practice the CanadaGAP Food Safety Program in your organization, consistent with the guidelines in your industry guide. Be sure to keep up-to-date records of your compliance with the program, covering a minimum of three months prior to your first audit.

Step 3 : Enrollment in the CanadaGAP Certification Program

Register for the CanadaGAP certification program by completing the membership form available on their website. Select the certification option that meets your requirements and those of your customers. The certification options (A1, A2, B, C, D) differ according to the frequency of audits, Canadian government recognition and GFSI, as well as costs. Refer to the summary of options on CanadaGAP. Also indicate the certification body selected to conduct the audit. Contact the certification bodies authorized by CanadaGAP or contact Yvea for more information.

Step 4 : Pass CanadaGAP Certification Audit

L'audit de certification CanadaGAP, réalisé par l'organisme de votre choix, évaluera la conformité de votre programme de salubrité des aliments avec les exigences du guide de votre secteur. L'audit, qui peut être annoncé ou surprise, se déroule dans votre entreprise et sa durée varie en fonction de sa taille et de sa complexité. Soyez prêt à présenter toute la documentation nécessaire ainsi qu'à montrer vos installations et équipements. Consultez la liste de contrôle d'audit disponible sur le site de CanadaGAP pour vous préparer efficacement.

Step 5 : Receive the CanadaGAP certification certificate

Upon successful completion of the CanadaGAP certification audit, a CanadaGAP certification certificate will be issued to you by the certification body. This document certifies that your CanadaGAP food safety program meets the requirements specified in the guide for your industry.

The validity of your certificate depends on the certification option you have selected. To check the current status of your certification, you can access the online register of certified operations on the CanadaGAP website.

How much does a CanadaGAP certification cost ?

The price of obtaining a CanadaGAP certification varies according to several criteria, including the type of certification selected, the field of activity, the size and complexity of the company, its location and the availability of auditors on site. There are three main components of this certification fee :

  • The annual program fee, charged by CanadaGAP, is intended to cover the costs of administering, maintaining, approving and supporting the program. These amounts vary depending on the certification option chosen, ranging from $305 to $2,980 CAD for the first year ($260 to $2,540 USD), and from $205 to $2,480 CAD for subsequent years ($175 to $2,120 USD).
  • The service costs of the certification body, paid directly to that entity, which include costs related to the audit, travel, evaluation, monitoring and certification itself. These fees depend on the chosen organization, the type and frequency of audits, and the duration and location of those audits. They range from $1,000 to $2,500 CAD per year (from $850 to $2,150 USD).
  • An annual fee of $50 CAD (approximately $43 USD) per CanadaGAP registered business options A1, A2, B, C or E to be paid to Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC). This funding contributes to the representation and promotion of the fresh fruit and vegetable industry in Canada.

As a result, the total cost of a CanadaGAP certification can range from $1,355 to $5,530 CAD per year ($1,153 to $4,733 USD), depending on the situation. It is crucial to evaluate the offers and rates offered by the various certification bodies in order to select the option that best suits your needs and those of your customers.

For personalized estimates, do not hesitate to contact the certification bodies directly or consult the list of contacts available on the CanadaGAP website. The Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ) is recommended by CanadaGAP and offers a bilingual certification service across Canada and the United States.

How long does it take to obtain CanadaGAP certification ?

The time required to acquire a CanadaGAP certification varies according to various criteria, such as the type of certification selected, the field of activity, the size and complexity of the company, its location, and the availability of auditors. Three main factors affect this duration :

  • The time required to implement the CanadaGAP Food Security Program. This includes time to upgrade to meet requirements, time to develop and revise the program, and a minimum of three months before the first audit.
  • The planning and execution of the certification audit. This period varies according to the type of certification, the nature and frequency of audits, the duration and distance of audits, and the availability of auditors. It usually takes two weeks to two months from the audit request to its completion.
  • The time required to review the audit results and issue the certificate. This step may vary depending on the certification body, the audit results, and whether or not corrections are required. Typically, this process takes two weeks to two months after the audit is completed.

The total time required to obtain CanadaGAP certification can range from three months to one year, depending on the circumstances. It is crucial to plan your certification process and choose an organization that meets your needs and those of your customers.

For a more accurate estimate of timelines, contact the certification bodies directly or visit the CanadaGAP website for their contact list. We suggest the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ), recognized for its bilingual CanadaGAP certification services across Canada and the United States, as well as a trusted partner of the online platform Yvea, facilitating access to fast and efficient services for your CanadaGAP certification.

Is there a renewal required for CanadaGAP certification ?

As CanadaGAP certification is not permanent, it requires periodic renewal tailored to the selected certification option. This process is crucial to maintaining the certificate’s validity and ensuring compliance with the program. The renewal process includes the following key elements :

  • The maintenance of the CanadaGAP Food Safety Program, by complying with the requirements of the industry-specific guide and updating the necessary records to demonstrate compliance.
  • Payment of the annual program fee, charged by CanadaGAP, which covers the administration, maintenance, recognition, and support of the program. These fees vary depending on the certification option chosen, ranging from $205 to $2,480 CAD ($175 to $2,120 USD).
  • An annual fee of $50 CAD ($43 USD) for each company registered under options A1, A2, B, C, or E of CanadaGAP, payable to Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC). This fee supports the representation and promotion of the fresh fruit and vegetable industries in Canada.
  • Completion of renewal audits by the selected certification body to verify compliance of the food safety program with the criteria of the appropriate guide. These audits may be scheduled or unannounced, depending on the certification option, and must take place within the periods specified by the program.
  • Obtaining a CanadaGAP recertification certificate, issued by the certification body, attesting to the compliance of the food safety program with the requirements of the corresponding guide. The validity period of the renewal certificate depends on the certification option selected.

Renewing CanadaGAP certification is essential to ensure the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables and to meet customer demands and market standards. It is crucial to plan this process well in advance, and to select a certification body that meets the specific requirements and expectations.

For more information on renewal procedures and deadlines, it is possible to contact the certification bodies directly or consult the CanadaGAP website for a list of contacts. Among the organizations certified by CanadaGAP, the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ) stands out as a recommended choice. It offers CanadaGAP certification services across Canada and the United States.

La procédure classique

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

1

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

2

Revue documentaire

Voici la liste des documents nécessaires pour l'ouverture du dossier :
Proforma ou facture finale
Fiche descriptive pour chaque code de nomenclature
Rapports de test ou certificats d'analyse pour chaque code de nomenclature
Certificat de qualité ISO 9001 ou équivalent
Déclaration d'importation à demander à votre acheteur (selon la destination)

3

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