PrimusGFS Certification : Primus Group Food Safety

PrimusGFS, certified by the GFSI, guarantees food safety from production to distribution. Specifically focused on fresh products, it strengthens consumer confidence by ensuring quality and safety. Discover the steps to obtain this certification, its requirements and its importance for your activity.

What is PrimusGFS certification ?

PrimusGFS certification is an extensive program designed to ensure the food safety of fresh or lightly processed products. It encompasses the entire supply chain, from production to distribution, encompassing the stages of production, storage, transport and processing. This certification concerns all the actors involved in these processes, including farmers, harvesting teams, packers, storers, distributors and processors.

This certification is validated by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), a renowned international player that sets standards for food safety certifications. The recognition by GFSI gives PrimusGFS certification great credibility and acceptance on a global scale.

At the heart of PrimusGFS certification is HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point), a proven system for identifying, assessing and controlling food safety risks. The programme includes specific modules tailored to each segment of the industry, prescribing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) according to the particularities of each field (agriculture, packaging, storage, transport, processing).

Primus Group, in charge of PrimusGFS certification management, specialises in food safety services. Thanks to an innovative IT system, Azzule, Primus Group allows the realization and online consultation of PrimusGFS audits and the secure transfer of data between suppliers and customers. The group works with accredited certification bodies to carry out these audits and issue certifications to companies that comply with established standards.

Which organizations offer PrimusGFS certification ?

To obtain PrimusGFS certification, you must work with a certification body (CB) approved by Primus Group, the organizer of the PrimusGFS program. These CBs are autonomous entities, responsible for conducting PrimusGFS audits and issuing certificates to companies that meet the program requirements. To be approved, CBs must be accredited in accordance with ISO/IEC 17065 or have temporary approval ("provisionally approved") by PrimusGFS.

They must also have among their team qualified auditors and authorized to conduct PrimusGFS audits, adapted to the nature of the activity (BPA or BPM). There are currently several CBs recognized by Primus Group to offer PrimusGFS certification. A complete list is available on the PrimusGFS website. When choosing the SO that meets your needs, consider your location, industry, specific requirements, and budget.

It is necessary to contact the selected CB directly in order to obtain a quote, schedule an audit, and discuss costs and travel costs. Primus Group then charges the CBs a fee for the processing of applications and certification, which is ultimately billed to the evaluated companies. To illustrate the CBs offering PrimusGFS certification, here are some examples :

Asociación de Normalización y Certificación, S.A. de C.V. (ANCE)

  • OC located in Mexico, specializing in PrimusGFS certification for BPA and BPM.
  • Accrédité selon la norme ISO/IEC 17065.

CCOF Certification Services, LLC

  • OC établi aux États-Unis, proposant la certification PrimusGFS pour BPA et BPM, ainsi que la certification biologique.
  • Accredited according to ISO/IEC 17065.

CERES Certification of Environmental Standards

  • US OC, offering PrimusGFS certification for BPA and BPM.
  • Accredited to ISO/IEC 17065.

What are the specific PrimusGFS certification requirements for my industry ?

PrimusGFS certification encompasses several modules tailored to the various activities in your field. Based on the HACCP principle, these modules define Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), which are essential to the food safety of your products. Depending on your activities, select the applicable modules and prepare for their audit by a recognized certification body.

Learn about the main modules of PrimusGFS certification and their applicability across sectors :

Module 1 : Food Safety Management System

This module, mandatory for all activities, assesses the effectiveness of your food safety management system. This includes various aspects such as policy, objectives, responsibilities, documentation, training, communication, management review, risk analysis, HACCP plan, operational control, verification, validation, traceability, incident and complaint management, non-conformities, corrective and preventive measures, and continuous improvement.

Module 2 : Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

Intended for primary production activities such as farms and indoor crops, this module inspects good agricultural practices including site management, soil, water, fertilizers, pesticides, equipment, waste, workers, visitors, animals, chemicals, crops, transportation and food security.

Module 3 : Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)

Applicable to food processing, storage, distribution, cooling and packaging activities. This module reviews good manufacturing practices, including design and maintenance of premises, management of services and equipment, handling of materials, allergens, chemicals, waste, labor, visitors, operations, transportation, labelling, repackaged and returned products, and food safety in general.

To facilitate your preparation for PrimusGFS audits, consult the checklists and interpretation guides available on the PrimusGFS website. Take advantage of Yvea’s support for exclusive benefits. For more information contact us.

What are the steps to obtain PrimusGFS certification ?

To obtain PrimusGFS certification, the following steps are essential :

Step 1 : Check the eligibility of your operation

  • Make sure your products (fresh or minimally processed) are part of PrimusGFS certification.
  • Identify the type of operation you are performing: either good agricultural practices (GAP) for primary production, or good manufacturing practices (GMP) for food processing, storage, distribution, cooling, and packaging.

Step 2 : Choose a certification body

  • Select a certification body (CB) approved by the Primus Group, responsible for the PrimusGFS program. The list of approved SOs is available on the PrimusGFS website.  
  • Discuss your specific audit needs, check auditor availability, costs, and travel expenses. Request a quote and schedule your audit with the OC of your choice.

Step 3 : Prepare for the audit

  • Familiarize yourself with the essential documents available on the PrimusGFS website, including general rules, checklists and interpretation guides, which establish the standards required by the PrimusGFS program according to the type of operation.
  • Develop and implement a food safety management system based on HACCP and follow good agricultural or manufacturing practices according to your field.
  • Make sure you have at least three months of food safety documentation and records at the time of the audit.
  • Perform a self-audit to identify any potential non-conformities and apply the necessary corrective measures before the official audit.

Step 4 : Perform the Audit

  • The auditor of the selected CB will conduct the audit in accordance with your type of operation and the chosen module.  
  • The audit will include an opening meeting, an operations inspection, a document review, followed by a closing meeting.
  • The auditor will provide you with a report of the non-conformities discovered, either at the end of the audit or within 24 hours.

Step 5 : Complete Corrective Actions

  • After the audit, you have 30 days to complete the necessary corrective actions and register them on Azzule, the digital platform used by Primus Group and certifying bodies for the management of PrimusGFS audits.
  • Performing these corrective actions can not only improve your audit score but also help you achieve the level of compliance required for PrimusGFS certification.

Step 6 : Receive the certificate

  • By passing the audit and finalizing the corrective actions in the given time, you will obtain the PrimusGFS certificate issued by the certifying body you selected.  
  • This certificate remains valid for 12 months from the date of the audit. However, it could be affected by significant changes in your operations or complaints against you.
  • Your PrimusGFS certificate will also be available on the PrimusGFS website, the official directory of PrimusGFS certified companies.

How much does a PrimusGFS certification cost ?

The cost of obtaining PrimusGFS certification varies according to various factors, including the type of operation, the number of modules required, the duration of the audit, the auditor’s travel expenses, as well as the expenses applied by the certification body (CB) selected. Although there is no standard tariff for PrimusGFS certification, it is possible to estimate the cost by considering the following :

The kind of operation

  • The type of operation dictates the number of modules to be examined, as well as the complexity and duration of the audit. For example, one Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) activity requires the audit of two modules, while the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) activity requires three.  
  • It also determines the number of sites to audit, the volume of samples to collect, and the number of tests to perform. Thus, a BPM operation involving several processing or distribution sites, will require audits for each location, the collection of samples of finished products, and the realization of microbiological or chemical tests.

The number of modules

  • The number of modules audited defines the scope of the audit and the level of compliance required. The higher the number of modules, the more stringent you need to meet food safety criteria, increasing your audit score and credibility.
  • This also impacts the time required to complete the audit. Auditing more modules means a longer and more detailed audit, requiring more food safety documentation and records.

The duration of the audit

  • The duration of the audit is influenced by the type of operation, the number of modules, the size and complexity of the operation, the number of sites to be audited, and the auditor’s availability.
  • It directly affects the cost of the audit, since the longer the audit, the higher the labour costs charged by the selected CB.

Travel expenses of the auditor

  • Travel costs depend on the location of your operation, the distance between your operation and the selected SO, as well as the means of transport and the accommodation of the auditor.
  • These fees influence the total cost of the audit, as the farther the auditor travels, the greater the expenses for transportation and accommodation.

Fees charged by the certification body

The price of the certification body (CB) you select fluctuates according to several criteria such as demand, competition, and the quality of the services offered. Here is a breakdown of the types of fees you may encounter :

  • Application Fee  
  • Audit Fee  
  • Certification Fee  
  • Auditor Travel Fee These fees vary from SO to SO and should be discussed and negotiated directly with your chosen SO. It is strongly recommended to request a quote before initiating the audit process. To help you estimate the cost of a PrimusGFS certification, see the sample quotes available on the PrimusGFS website. You will also have the opportunity to compare offers from different CBs approved by Primus Group, allowing you to choose according to the best value for money.

How long does it take to obtain PrimusGFS certification ?

PrimusGFS certification time varies according to various elements, including the preparation of your company, the availability of the selected certification body (CB), the conduct of the audit, the implementation of corrective actions, and finally, the issuance of the certificate. While there is no specific duration, the following are benchmarks for estimating the time required :

The preparation of your operation

  • To prepare for the audit, it is essential to implement a food safety management system, to apply good agricultural or manufacturing practices according to your field of activity, and have at least 3 months of food safety documentation and records.  
  • Performing a self-audit is also a crucial step. This helps you identify any non-conformities and take corrective action before the official audit.  
  • The preparation time depends on the size and complexity of your business, as well as the desired level of compliance. This may take a few weeks to several months.

The availability of the certification body

  • It is necessary to contact a CB approved by the Primus group, responsible for the PrimusGFS program. Discuss with the CB your specific needs, auditor availability, travel costs and expenses. Don’t forget to ask for a quote and plan your audit.
  • The availability of CBs varies according to demand, competition and seasonality. It is recommended to contact them well in advance to ensure a smooth organization of the audit.

The performance of the audit

  • An auditor from your chosen SO will perform the on-site audit according to the specified type and operation module. This process includes an opening meeting, a field visit and audit, a documentation review, and a closing meeting.
  • The duration of the audit can vary from one to three days, depending on the type of operation, the number of modules, the size and complexity of your company, as well as the number of sites to audit and the auditor’s availability.

Completion of corrective actions

  • After the audit, you have 30 days to complete and submit corrective actions via the Azzule system, an online platform used by Primus Group and CBs for PrimusGFS audit management.
  • Corrective actions are an opportunity to improve your audit score and achieve the level of compliance required for PrimusGFS certification.

Issue of the certificate

If you pass the audit successfully and complete the required corrective actions on time, you will receive your PrimusGFS certificate from the Certification Body (CB) of your choice. The process for issuing this certificate can vary from one to two weeks, depending on how long it takes the CB to validate your corrective actions and issue the certificate.

In short, the path to PrimusGFS certification can take two to six months, depending on various key factors. It is essential to prepare well upstream, select a reputable SO and strictly align with the deadlines imposed by PrimusGFS.

Is there a renewal for PrimusGFS certification ?

PrimusGFS certification is valid for one year from the date of the audit. You must renew it annually, except in case of significant changes in your operation or receipt of complaints. The renewal process follows the same steps as the initial procurement :

  • Verification of the eligibility of your operation  
  • Selection of a certification body  
  • Preparation for the audit  
  • Conduct of the audit  
  • Implementation of corrective actions  
  • Receipt of the certificate

Renewing your PrimusGFS certification ensures that your compliance is maintained, demonstrates your commitment to food safety and strengthens the trust of your customers and consumers. In addition, it allows you to take advantage of the benefits of the program, such as recognition by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), access to international markets and simplification of audits via the Azzule online system.

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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