Food Safety Certifiers Procedures Manual
Primus Standard Resources

Access documentation for the Primus Standard regulations at the link below. The documents are separated by operation type, and provide checklists and scoring guidelines for your audit.

PrimusGFS Resources

Documentation for the PrimusGFS scheme can be found at the link below. Starting January 1, 2020, all operations will be audited to PrimusGFS v3.1. Clients may choose to be audited to either PrimusGFS v3.0 or v3.1 until the end of 2019. Use the Questions & Expectations documents for each module that applies to your operation to get an idea of what the inspector will be looking for on site and in your plan. Interpretation Guidelines are also available for in-depth information and requirements for each module.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Food Safety Certification?

Increased public concerns about foodborne illness from fresh produce and the associated economic loss from foodborne illness have motivated many growers and handlers to voluntarily adopt good agricultural practices (GAPs) and good manufacturing practices (GMPs). Third-party food safety certification offers a way for growers to let buyers know they follow appropriate food safety practices on their farms. Although food safety inspection is mandated by law for high risk commodities, such as eggs and meat, for the majority of commodities third-party certification is voluntary but often required by buyers and major retailers.

Food safety audits focus on best agricultural practices to verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of physical, chemical and microbial food safety hazards.

Who can apply for food safety certification?

Although almost any type of agricultural commodity and activity can be certified, FSC offers certification for:

  • Fruit & Vegetable Primary Production
  • Cooler & Warehousing
  • Packinghouse & Raw Agricultural Handling
  • Processors of ready to eat or heat foods & dried goods
What is GAP?

GAP stands for Good Agricultural Practices which usually refers to on farm primary production.

Good Agricultural Practices may include things like mitigation of risk due to adjacent land use and previous site history, management of animal activity, water testing, worker hygiene, proper fertilization and pesticide use, etc. Management and implementation of these practices can be done via written and verbal policies & procedures, recordkeeping, physical things such as fencing or ditches, proper training, etc.

What is GMP?

GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Practices which usually refers to post farm gate handling operations.

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) programs cover many topics including pest control, traceability, sanitation, food defense, maintenance, foreign material control and HACCP. Management and implementation of good manufacturing practices may written and verbal policies & procedures, recordkeeping, proper training, etc.

What is GFSI?

Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), is a private international food safety benchmark. When an operation undergoes a GFSI audit, this means they are being audited to a GFSI benchmarked food safety standard. Food Safety Certifiers (FSC) currently audits operations to the following GFSI level audits:

  • PrimusGFS

Before GFSI, food safety was a high priority issue for many companies due to several high profile recalls, quarantines and negative publicity in regards to food safety. In addition, retailers were performing multiple audits individually and by third parties for food safety standards that lacked international certification and accreditation which resulted in unparalleled results. The demand for a universally accepted scheme started to strengthen.

Industry leaders from all over the world came together at The Consumer Goods Forum to create GFSI. GFSI was created to unify food safety standards which would reduce audit fatigue and support the need for a safer supply chain for consumers. GFSI developed a model that determines equivalency between existing food safety standards through a benchmarking process. The benchmarking model is based on the GFSI guidance document, which is updated regularly.

What is FSMA?

General Information –
FSMA Compliance Dates –

The FDA FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011. The act allows the FDA to strengthen our food safety system to better protect the public’s health. In addition, the law provides the FDA with new enforcement authorities to ensure higher rates of compliance with prevention- and risk- based food safety standards and better response to problems when they occur.

How can you prepare for FSMA?

FSMA is currently in effect, please see below for compliance dates based on operation size. Once you’ve determined your compliance date,you’ll need to ensure a food safety plan is implemented at your site per the appropriate FSMA rules:

Currently, the U.S.’s top food safety standards are working hard to update their food safety auditing checklist to be compliant to FSMA’s new final rule. In the meantime, many operations are obtaining/have obtained food safety certification by third party auditing agencies due to buyer demand which is a great stepping stone towards being FSMA compliant.

Please note that Food Safety Certifiers will no longer be accepting applications for new clients effective immediately.