EFI to Roll Out Customized Audit Approach

Program aims to alleviate audit fatigue, simplify certification process
Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Starting on Feb. 1, grower-shippers will be able to choose whether to include GFSI-recognized food safety and IPM standards in the EFI certification audit.

Equitable Food Initiative (EFI), a capacity-building and certification organization that works with growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumer groups, has expanded its certification offerings, with the aim of reducing the burden growers face by enabling a customized audit approach. As well as continuing to provide one-stop audits for social responsibility, food safety and integrated pest management (IPM) standards, EFI will now also offer audit options designed specifically to reduce time, cost and burdens for grower-shippers.

“It has always been a priority for EFI to minimize redundancy in the audit process,” noted Peter O’Driscoll, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization. “Our new customized approach provides flexibility for growers to choose the scope of audit they need to meet their customers’ requirements.” 

[Read more: “The Stakes Are Higher Than Ever for Supermarkets to Source More Responsibly”]

The core differentiator of EFI certification – the creation and training of a worker-manager collaborative team –  will remain the same. Starting on Feb. 1, grower-shippers will be able to choose whether to include Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)-recognized food safety and IPM standards in the EFI certification audit. The new options are as follows: 

  • Continuing with EFI’s one-stop-shop audit for labor practices, GFSI-recognized food safety and IPM/pollinator health. A new, optional addition will help growers demonstrate alignment with the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule.

  • Auditing to EFI’s social responsibility and culture of food safety standards but submitting a valid GFSI-recognized food safety certificate from another program instead of completing an EFI food safety audit.

  • Auditing to EFI’s IPM standards to fulfill customer requirements for pollinator health.

“We’ve heard from many growers who would like to pursue EFI certification but already have a GFSI-recognized food safety or IPM certification from another program that they want to maintain,” continued O’Driscoll. “As a multi-stakeholder initiative, EFI is always committed to serving the interests of everyone in the supply chain, and we are happy to offer an approach that strengthens labor standards while building on what growers are already doing. These changes will reduce the time and expense of audits for growers seeking a customized option.”

“The cornerstone of the EFI program, a functional and collaborative worker-manager team, will still be required on each EFI-certified farming operation,” said Madelyn Edlin, EFI’s marketing and sales manager. “However, with the customized audit approach, we can offer a variety of options that will help eliminate audit repetition or redundant requirements.”  

EFI has helped educate and train worker-manager collaborative teams for 33 grower-shipper companies on 80-plus farming operations. Through the organization’s certification program, more than 4,000 farmworkers and managers have been trained in problem-solving, communication and conflict resolution strategies, helping to improve labor conditions and safety for 55,000-plus workers.

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