Jan 19, 2024
EFI introduces customized audit approach

A new customizable audit tool released by Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) is designed to alleviate audit fatigue and streamline the certification process.

EFI, the capacity-building and certification organization that partners with growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumer groups, has expanded its certification offerings, reducing the burden growers face by allowing for a customized audit approach, according to a news release.

“EFI has been certifying farms to its rigorous social responsibility, food safety and integrated pest management standards for nearly a decade and was proud to earn recognition from the Global Food Safety Initiative in 2022. EFI will continue to offer the one-stop audit for these three sets of standards, but will now also offer audit options designed specifically to reduce time, cost and burdens for grower-shippers,” according to the release.

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

The core differentiator of EFI certification, which is the creation and training of a worker-manager collaborative team, remains the same. Beginning on Feb. 1, grower-shippers will have the flexibility to choose whether to include GFSI-recognized food safety and IPM standards in the EFI certification audit.

The new options include:

  • Continuing with EFI’s one-stop-shop audit for labor practices, GFSI-recognized food safety and IPM/pollinator health. A new, optional addendum 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 in place 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,” O’Driscoll said in the release. “As a multistakeholder 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. However, with the customized audit approach, we can offer a variety of options that will help eliminate audit repetition or redundant requirements,” according to the release.

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




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