Quick Guide to become PrimusGFS Certified
This quick overview provides a common path to certification but the order may vary depending on circumstance. Auditees are advised to study documents careful and book audits well in advance.
Summary of the Certification Process click here.
1. Check that your operation’s products are within the PrimusGFS GFSI-recognized scope, see General Regulations current version, Certification Scopes.
2. Decide on kind of operation type(s) you need to have audited:
2.1 GAP – Growing Area (Farm or Indoor Agriculture), Harvest Crew.
2.2 GMP/HACCP – Cooling & Cold Storage, Packinghouse, Processing, Storage & Distribution.
3. Review relevant documents on the PrimusGFS website, especially:
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).
Optional: PrimusGFS-approved training centers offer courses which may help with understanding the Certification Program requirements. The first three days of the training are offered to both auditors and auditees. See here for a calendar of training events.
4. Choose a certification body (CB) to work with. Approved PrimusGFS CBs can be found here.
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.
5. Perform a self- audit.
We strongly recommend performing a full self-audit on your operation(s). A good self-audit will allow you to detect potential non-conformances and implement corrective actions before a formal audit, thus improving your performance on the day of the audit.
6. Audit performed.
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 non-conformances 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.
7. Completion of corrective actions.
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. Please see here for instructions of recording corrective actions.
8. Certification decision.
8.1. Once the audit report and corrective actions are completed, 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 Certification Program 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)).
9. PrimusGFS Certificates
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.