The quality of our compost produced in Canada may now be dictated in part by the purchasers of fruits and vegetables. In an announcement on July 22, 2014, CanadaGAP stated that as of April 1, 2015:
“the person responsible selects/purchases harvested/market product from operations that have successfully completed one of the options below and requests a copy of a current/valid certificate for CanadaGAP or other industry recognized third part food safety audit/certification.”
Canada GAP (Good Agricultural Practice) is an independently operated program to demonstrate due diligence in food safety. It is part of an international effort to assure the public that our food is safe to eat. Global GAP is the worldwide standard that assures Good Agricultural Practice in setting voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products.
The CanadaGAP Food Safety Manual for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (2013) requires that:
1. No sewage sludge products are used
2. Compost producers provide a letter of assurance for any compost sold for fruit or vegetable production.
3. Compost produced on the farm growing the fruit or vegetables must undergo a demonstrated pathogen kill process.
The fruit and vegetable industry can respond in one of two ways:
1. stop using manures or composts because the potential safety risk is too great, or
2. purchase compost that come with quality assurances, particularly regarding potential pathogens.
Most fruit and vegetable producers realize the importance of healthy soil, which is maintained with addition of organic matter via manure or compost. In my opinion, a choice to stop using compost or manures is not a good one as it would lead to a decline in soil quality and in the quality of the food grown on that soil.
As compost producers, this is our opportunity to rise to the challenge. We will be asked to accept liability for our product via letters of assurance. We know how to produce stable and pathogen free compost. Within our own operations, there is the opportunity to ensure a management and operations system that ensures the quality of compost that is being expected.
We are an important industry that needs us for the safety of the fruits and vegetables that we consume and export. We also have to remember that we are also important for the long term health of our soils.
Canada Gap 2014. www.canadagap.ca
Global Gap. 2014 www.global.gap