Whole Foods Market, the US-based natural and organic retailer with stores in North America and the UK, has revealed that it became a GlobalGAP retail member in August this year.
"Whole Foods Market requires that all produce vendors and their suppliers operate using risk-based food safety plans created after performing a risk assessment to identify potential food safety hazards," said GlobalGAP in a statement. "Additionally, it requires that vendors of high-risk produce (such as salads, melons and green onions) have a third party food safety audit, preferably to GFSI-recognised schemes, including GlobalGAP's Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA-Crops-Fruit & Veg) and Produce Safety Standard (PSS)."
Whole Foods Market is a market-leader in supporting and driving adoption for organic, non-GMO and locally-grown fresh produce initiatives.
In 2014 it introduced Responsibly Grown, an innovative, tiered rating system that assesses growing practices based upon their impact on human health, environmental sustainability, water conservation and worker welfare. It labels fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers as 'good', 'better' or 'best' to help shoppers make more informed choices, and it prohibits some of the most hazardous neurotoxins still allowed in agriculture.
GlobalGAP has worked with Whole Foods Market to benchmark its IFA standard to the Responsibly Grown system to identify overlapping requirements and simplify compliance for IFA-certified producers. The certification body is currently exploring ways to further develop a streamlined audit process for growers seeking IFA certification and a verified Responsibly Grown rating.
“Whole Foods Market launched Responsibly Grown with the goal of addressing some of the most critical agricultural issues we're facing today, and to reward growers who are taking major steps to protect human health and the environment," noted Whole Foods Market’s team leader of Responsibly Grown, Robin Foster. "We're proud to be working with partners like GlobalGAP to address these important issues, benchmark achievements and raise the bar across the industry.”
GlobalGAP sustainability consultant Roberta Anderson added that the organisation's partnership with Whole Foods was a great example of developing efficient, pragmatic approaches to food safety and sustainability assurance.
"The more we can do to acknowledge similarities in standards, the better we can eliminate unnecessary duplication of efforts, saving both time and money for growers," she added.