Reassuring consumers around the world that the food products they are buying are safe and responsibly produced – in terms of their environment impact as well as the health, safety and welfare of workers and animals – has reached levels of unprecedented importance in today’s society. Because validating such efforts on an individual, business-by-business basis is an extremely complex undertaking, third-party certification schemes are available. One of the most internationally recognised initiatives in this respect is GlobalGAP, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products around the globe.
THEN & NOW
The name GlobalGAP didn’t exist until 2007, but its roots began 10 years earlier as EUREPGAP. The initiative, set up by a group of European retailers, aimed to address consumer concerns head-on by harmonising their own standards and procedures through the development of an independent certification system for Good Agricultural Practice (GAP).
Today, GlobalGAP offers 16 standards across crops, livestock and aquaculture. It estimates that more than 160,000 primary producers come under some form of GlobalGAP certification, involving 124 countries. Indeed many retailers around the world now demand a valid GlobalGAP certificate from their agricultural, horticultural and aquaculture suppliers before they include their products in store.
As a seafood supplier, Pittman Seafoods is particularly acquainted with the GlobalGAP Aquaculture Standard. This certification system was initiated in 2004 to cover salmonids, and then later expanded to cover other species such as pangasius in 2009. In 2011, the NGO launched an aquaculture standard covering all production systems for finfish, crustaceans and molluscs.
As part of Pittman Seafoods’ commitment to responsible aquaculture, it has ensured that GlobalGAP Chain of Custody Standard is in place for the relevant farmed species that it supplies. This certificate ensures that any product bearing a GlobalGAP label or sold as a GlobalGAP certified product is sourced from GlobalGAP certified farms.
Covering the complete production chain – from feed to fork – the GlobalGAP Aquaculture Standard sets strict criteria for five key areas, namely legal compliance; food safety; workers’ occupational health, safety and welfare; animal welfare; and environmental and ecological care. In total, the standard has 66 specific environmental criteria that must be fulfilled.
The Aquaculture Standard currently applies to 30 of the most commercially produced seafood species in 28 countries and covers the entire production chain, from broodstock, seedlings and feed suppliers to farming, harvesting and processing.
Because compound feed plays a vital role in the aquaculture production and supply chain, fish and shrimp farmers are required to source feeds from reliable suppliers at the aquatic farming and hatchery stages. The Global GAP Compound Feed Manufacturing Standard (CFM) defines the criteria for quality assurance in the production, supply and purchase of raw materials and feed ingredients for feeds. It also covers all the production steps, from purchase, handling and storage to the processing and distribution of compound feed.
With more consumers seeking reliable information and guidance for purchasing seafood, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that questions relating to origin and production methods, as well as social and ecological conditions, are playing an increasingly significant role in establishing consumer trust and determining purchasing decisions. For this reason, GlobalGAP last year took the decision to introduce its own consumer label – GGN – offering consumers more information and added transparency when buying fish and seafood from certified aquaculture.
GGN, which stands for GlobalGAP Number, identifies all farms participating in the certification scheme. Alongside this initiative, a new online platform (www.ggn.org) was rolled out to enable consumers to obtain specific information on individual farms and products using the GGN. The online portal with the GGN farm search is also available to other standards, with the Friend of the Sea standard onboard from the outset, followed by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Naturland and the EU organic logo.
At GGN’s launch, GlobalGAP said the move was a response to direct requests from trade and industry on behalf of consumers to provide more transparency regarding origin and production conditions.