A food safety program is in place at the packing houses, receiving stations and storage facilities. The implementation of this program began in 2005 and since then it has been continually improving. More recently, in September 2015, the facility groups went through a certification audit against the CanadaGAP Food Safety Program standard.
The CanadaGAP Food Safety Program was designed for companies like BC Tree Fruits who implement Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and HACCP in their production, packing and storage operations. It is annually revised by the horticultural industry to ensure a practical approach to implementing these practices. In addition it is reviewed for technical soundness by Canadian government officials.
The packing houses continue to successfully maintain our CanadaGAP Option C certification. This level of certification meets international benchmarking requirements, is Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognized, and, as of this year, is formally recognized by the Canadian Government. Achieving and maintaining this designation assures to our buyers that we are committed to producing and packing a safe quality product.
We successfully achieved CanadaGAP Option B Group Certification in 2015. This is the most cost-effective alternative to meet customer requirements. Under this certification option, growers are registered as a group and the implementation, maintenance and compliance with the OFFS Program is managed through a central Group Management System.
All BCTFC growers must go through the process of becoming registered into the OFFS Group Management System to have their fruit received at the packing house. To become registered growers must be trained in the OFFS Program, complete the OFFS Manual and pass an internal audit. Thereafter, annual registration is achieved through a successful audit.
Registered BCTFC growers maintain a program manual as part of the CanadaGAP Option B Group Certification. The manual consists of procedures and forms to demonstrate that Good Agricultural Practices have been implemented. Annually, the manual is reviewed to ensure the production practices are accurate and up to date. These records allow growers to document their food safety practices and provided a record of activities as evidence of compliance to the CanadaGAP program.