Hort crop growers’ food safety program funded

A federal program that backs ag commodity groups working on national-level on-farm food safety systems will put up over $750,000 for the Canadian Horticultural Council’s work in progress.

In development since the late 1990s, CanadaGAP, the CHC’s on-farm food safety program, is now being made available for implementation by horticulture producers across Canada, the government said in a release Saturday.

The funding, flowing through the government’s Canadian Integrated Food Safety Initiative (CIFSI), will go to the CHC to “complete” the on-farm food safety system, which the council administers and oversees for the hort-crop sector.

CanadaGAP, which received its new name in March last year, consists of national food safety standards and a certification system for producers, packers and storage intermediaries for safe production, storage and packing of fresh fruits and vegetables, the CHC said.

Six industry-developed “crop-specific” CHC manuals, reviewed for “technical soundness” by federal officials, are designed for growers and packers implementing good agricultural practices (GAPs), the council said.

The manuals are based on the seven “basic principles” of the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) approach, the government said.

“Technically sound”

The CIFSI contribution “has made it possible for the Canadian Horticultural Council to develop a technically sound and effective on-farm food safety system for Canada’s fruit and vegetable producers,” CHC president Andy Vermeulen, a fresh vegetable grower at Canning, N.S., said in the release.

“Growers here in Ontario and across Canada understand the importance of healthy food when it comes to maintaining a healthy business,” area MP Joe Preston said in the government’s release Saturday.

“This investment will further increase consumer confidence in the safety and quality of Canadian produce and will help growers boost their competitive edge in the marketplace,” federal Ag Minister Gerry Ritz said in the same release.

Apart from food safety systems development, CIFSI’s components, delivered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, also include the Canadian Industry Traceability Infrastructure program, which focuses on developing and setting up traceability processes and systems.

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