A Global Food Safety Initiative Scheme

What is PrimusGFS?

PrimusGFS is a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked and fully recognized audit scheme covering both GAP and GMP scopes as well as food safety management systems (FSMS). PrimusGFS standard is a food safety auditing standard that applies to all levels in the agricultural food chain.

Unlike other GFSI standards, which are classified into primary production or manufacturing categories, a PrimusGFS audit offers certification along the entire supply chain (focusing on agricultural and minimally-processed products), from production on the farm to processing and storing operations. A PrimusGFS audit uses a scored audit approach, as opposed to the standard ‘minor’ and ‘major’ nonconformances that Food Safety Managers may be familiar with. This approach allows organizations to steadily improve their score over time, while still meeting the base score needed to pass the audit.

Who should have it?

Large retailers and Food Companies seeking auditing schemes that are universally accepted, resulting in a desired goal of global food safety harmonization, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) scopes, and Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS).

How to achieve PrimusGFS:

  1. Check that your operation’s products are within the PrimusGFS GFSI-recognized scope
  2. Decide on kind of operation type(s) you need to have audited:
  3. 2.1 – GAP – Growing Area (Ranch or Greenhouse), Harvest Crew.
    2.2 – GMP/HACCP – Cooling & Cold Storage, Packinghouse, Processing Storage & Distribution.

  4. Review relevant documents on the PrimusGFS website, especially:
  5. 3.1 – General Regulations.
    3.2 – Checklist and Expectations.
    3.3 – Relevant Interpretation Guidelines (in order to better understand questions and expectations in the audit).

  6. Choose a certification body (CB) to work with.
  7. 4.1 – Talk with the CB about your audit needs and double check that you have the correct audit scope & operation types. Extending the scope of an audit post-certification is difficult & not always possible; it is important to have all your products & processes covered in the audit you are booking.
    4.2 – Talk with the CB about auditor availability, expense costs, & audit costs.
    4.3 – Consider an optional Pre-Assessment Audit if you feel it would be beneficial.
    4.4 – Book your audit, but remember that new auditees need at least 3 months of paperwork records available at the time of the audit to obtain full conformance.
    4.5 – Several steps of the certification process use PrimusGFS online software e.g. application, and corrective action recording. Your chosen CB will assist in the set up your online account and provide assistance using the PrimusGFS auditee software.

  8. Perform a self- audit.
  9. We strongly recommend performing a full self-audit on your operation(s). A good self-audit will allow you to detect potential nonconformances and implement corrective actions before a formal audit, thus improving your performance on the day of the audit.

  10. Audit performed.
  11. The auditor will perform an opening meeting, tour and audit the operation, audit documentation, and then hold a closing meeting. We recommend that you ensure the auditor leaves you a document/emails you copy of the detected nonconformances either on the day of the audit or within 24 hours of the audit, so that you are immediately ready to start the corrective action completion phase.

  12. Completion of corrective actions.
  13. 7.1 – Completing corrective actions can help improve your audit score.
    7.2 – Auditees have thirty (30) days from the day of the audit to complete and record corrective action work

  14. Certification decision.
  15. 8.1 – Once the audit report and corrective actions are competed, the CB will review all of the details in readiness for the certification decision.
    8.2 – CBs are supposed to issue certificate decisions within forty-five (45) days of the audit date.
    8.3 – Note that CBs can refuse certification not only because of failing overall or section audit scores, but also if critical food safety issues not covered in the audit scheme have been detected. Additionally, a CB can also refuse to certify for issues such as falsified records, inappropriate auditee behavior, etc.
    8.4 – Auditees can (in writing) appeal audit reports and certification decisions with their CBs if they wish to do so (ask your CB for a copy of their appeals, complaints and dispute procedure(s) and form(s)).

  16. PrimusGFS Certificates
  17. 9.1 – Certificates usually valid for 12 months from the day of the certification decision (check certificate detail).
    9.2 – Certificates are sent via email along with a copy of the final audit report.