PrimusGFS Auditee Frequently Asked Questions
What is new in PrimusGFS v3.2?
Version 3.2 brings updates to address: the GFSI V2020.1 benchmarking requirements, stakeholder feedback, continued focus on FDA FSMA’s Produce Safety and Preventive Control for Human Food, relevant recent best practice updates from commodity specific guidance documents.
The new version 3.2 has the most updated requirement, can I request a v3.2 audit now?
Yes, v3.2 is now available for you to use! Please feel free to talk to your certification body and schedule your v3.2 audit!
Do you have an official date for the mandatory use of v3.2?
After March 1st, 2022, v3.2 will be the only version you should use. Currently there is a transition period of the version 3.1 and version 3.2 so that you can either select v3.1 or v3.2 for your food safety program.
Will my customer accept my v3.2 audits?
Yes. PrimusGFS audits is a GFSI benchmarked certification program and widely accepted by the main retail and restaurant brands, wholesalers, and importers/exporters in the food industry. As the industry understands that v3.2 is updated to align with the GFSI new guideline v2020.1 and is under the re-benchmarking process. The v3.2 is considered to be the most updated version that PrimusGFS responded to the industry and regulation requirement. With the new requirement of nonconformity closures with effective corrections or corrective actions, you will be able to present to buyers your food safety efforts in addressing non conformities that may have been raised in your audit.
Can you cover pet food in v3.2?
Yes. V3.2 now covers the production of plant products, mixed animal and plant products, any source that are stored and sold at ambient temperature, including fruits and fresh juices, vegetables, grains, nuts, pulses and perishable pet food.
V3.2 also covers storage, distribution, and/or logistics operations for the storage and transport of perishable or nonperishable food, feed, and packaging.
Can you cover my logistics operations, for example, trucks that deliver produces?
Yes, V3.2 covers storage, distribution, and/or logistics operations for the storage and transport of perishable or nonperishable food, feed, and packaging. If you have any questions please feel free to email us [email protected] or contact any approved CBs.
What is the GFSI?
GFSI stands for Global Food Safety Initiative, a global food industry organization that creates and implements a food safety benchmarking framework. More details about the GFSI can be found here.
What is a Certification Program?
A food safety Certification Program , also known as a standard in this context, is a documented food safety auditing Certification Program, which has specific requirements, rules and procedures.
What is a Certification Program owner?
A Certification Program owner, also known as a standard owner in this context, is an organization that is responsible for the development, management, and maintenance of a Certification Program.
What is a certification body?
A certification body, also sometimes referred to as an auditing company, is a provider of certification services to auditees. For PrimusGFS audits, these providers must be accredited to an international standard such as ISO/IEC 17065, as well as be approved by PrimusGFS. More information about certification bodies and a list of approved PrimusGFS certification bodies can be found here.
What is GFSI benchmarking?
The GFSI Guidance Document is revised about once every 3 years (currently on edition v2020.1). Once issued, all member Certification Program must be benchmarked against the new version in order to be “recognized” by GFSI.
What is the status of PrimusGFS GFSI recognition?
Who is Azzule Systems?
Azzule Systems is a database management company and also the owner of the PrimusGFS audit Certification Program. More details about Azzule Systems can be found at azzule.com.
What is the relationship between PrimusLabs and Azzule Systems?
Azzule Systems is a wholly owned subsidiary of Primus Group Inc. PrimusLabs is a DBA (doing business as) of Primus Group Inc.
Why is the Certification Program called PrimusGFS?
Originally, the Certification Program was developed by PrimusLabs as a GFSI variant of their existing audit and was called PrimusGFS. When GFSI required that certification bodies could not own recognized Certification Program, the PrimusGFS project was transferred to Azzule Systems, but the name of the Certification Program was not changed.
Who accepts PrimusGFS audits?
The initial concept of GFSI benchmarking was “audited once, accepted everywhere.” In general, GFSI-recognized audit Certification Program have broad acceptance by many members of the industry. That said, auditees should check with their customers as to which audits they accept and/or prefer from their supply chains.
How do I send my audit report to my customers?
Your completed audit reports and certificates are emailed to you and the shippers named in your audit application. These emails can then be forwarded to your customers. However, since PrimusGFS reports are stored on a database, we would recommend sending your audit information via the Azzule Supply Chain Program (ASCP) (see next question) –utilizing database-to-database communication.
What is the Azzule Supply Chain Program?
The Azzule Supply Chain Program (ASCP) is designed to facilitate the storage and transfer of data among the supply chain. PrimusGFS audit reports are available to “organizations” and “shippers” in their respective ASCP websites. If you wish to register for the ASCP at no cost, please click here and complete the registration form. By sending reports to your customers via the ASCP, you enjoy the major advantage of database-to-database communication. This allows your customers to analyze the data and look for specific conformance criteria from their suppliers. (This is especially relevant for food retailers and food service companies).
How does my operation become certified?
What kind of food groups (scopes, categories) can be audited under PrimusGFS?
Please double check the Certification Program current general regulations to verify what categories of product can be audited in the PrimusGFS Certification Program. If you have any doubts as to whether your operation is within the PrimusGFS scope, please consult with your certification body contact.
What is an “organization”?
In the context of a PrimusGFS audit, the organization is the entity being audited that is creating and implementing the food safety management system (FSMS) within the “operation(s)” being audited (see “operation” question below).
What is an “operation”?
In the context of a PrimusGFS audit, the operation is the physical entity being audited. This could be a growing area (e.g., field, greenhouse, etc.), a harvest crew, or a facility (e.g., packinghouse, processor, cooler, storage facility, etc.). When applying for a PrimusGFS audit, the applicant must state the “operation type” in the application.
What is a “shipper”?
In the context of a PrimusGFS audit, a shipper is an entity that wishes their company name be displayed on the audit report; usually they are also a customer of the auditee’s products.
How do I get products added to the PrimusGFS database listing when completing the online application form?
The PrimusGFS product listing is comprised of mainly group names such as “tomatoes,” as opposed to variety names or brands. Two notable exceptions are: a) products that do not fit well in groups (e.g., eddoes), and b) individual products within a group that is of food safety concern (e.g., cantaloupe melons). If you think a product is missing from the listing, please contact us here.
What are shadow/witness assessment audits?
In order to help ensure auditors are performing at the required standards, they are shadowed (also called witnessed) by another individual as part of the auditing process quality assurance. These shadowed audits are essential for the health of an audit Certification Program and are therefore mandatory when requested by the PrimusGFS Certification Program. Certification bodies and accreditation bodies will also require shadowed audits for their QA purposes.
How do I appeal an audit report or certification decision?
Certification bodies are required to have an appeal/complaint/dispute procedure. If you wish to submit an appeal, please contact your CB and request a copy of their appeal procedure(s) and form(s).
What are the charges for being audited?
Audit charges and travel expenses are negotiated between the auditee and their chosen certification body. PrimusGFS charges certification bodies set fees for applications and certifications, which CBs then pass onto their auditee clients; details of these fees can be found here under key points.
What steps do I take if I want to switch to a different CB and I have previously been audited?
Can I switch CB’s if I have audits if in the preliminary report phase (“open” audits) with another CB?
No, all audits that are in the preliminary report phase (open audits) must be progress to the certification decision stage before an auditee can change CB’s. If an auditee has scheduled an audit with CB but wishes to change CB’s before the scheduled audit has occurred, this is possible.
What is a “training center”?
A PrimusGFS training center is a company that has been licensed by PrimusGFS to organize and hold certificated training courses for the auditors and interested parties (including auditees). Training centers must use approved trainers and their training must be based on a set curriculum (though a training center can add to this curriculum if they wish). Note: training is only mandated for auditors, but optional for all other interested parties.
What training courses are available?
There are two courses available:1) PrimusGFS Standard (3 days), which is mandated for auditors and optional for auditees, and 2) PrimusGFS Auditor Training Day (1 day), which is mandated for auditors. More details can be found here.
Is PrimusGFS certificated training mandated?
Auditors must attend a certificated training course that is organized by a licensed training center. These training courses are optional for auditees and other interested parties.
Who performs the PrimusGFS certified training?
The certificated training courses are performed by approved trainers who are contracted by the licensed training centers.
What are the PrimusGFS training costs?
Training centers set their own course prices for the training they provide. PrimusGFS does charge the training centers $25 per day per trainee.
How can I use a PrimusGFS logo after my company is certified under PrimusGFS standard?
Your company can use PrimusGFS logo only for business to business communications. Please obtain a copy of the PrimusGFS logo from your Certification Body. For CB contact information, visit: http://primusgfs.com/certification/. If you have any doubts about the proper utilization of the PrimusGFS logo, please contact [email protected].
Can I use a PrimusGFS logo at my operations or facilities?
Yes, the PrimusGFS logo can be used on a sign or banner displayed at your operation or facility as long as you maintain an active certification under PrimusGFS. Do not adapt or modify the logo for your own use under any circumstances, for example, changing the color or design of the logo. Always get permission from your Certification Body to use the CB’s logo.
If I want to mention my PrimusGFS certification in my company literature or product-related information, including invoices, advertisements, websites, and in other media, what should I do?
Please make sure to be accurate and precise about the scope of your organization’s PrimusGFS certification, as far as the certification scope, activities, and operations covered by the certification are concerned.
An example of statement can be:
“XYZ company is pleased to announce that the production/ packing/ storage/ processing/ distributing of its applicable products has or have been certified to a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognized Certification Program PrimusGFS by the Certification Body name to be in conformity with the PrimusGFS Standard Farm/ Indoor Agriculture/ Harvest Crew/ Packinghouse/ Cooling and Cold Storage/ Storage and Distribution Center/ Processing audits. We are proud to list our recent certification status at PrimusGFS website http://primusgfs.com/primusgfs/newcertificationRegister.aspx. All our audits are available electronically to facilitate ease of transfers throughout Azzule for our customers. All our audits have an instant one-click English/Spanish translation tools so that our customers can review audit reports without the language barrier.
What is PrimusGFS doing to address “Social Distancing” measures?
To address the specific need for “social distancing,” PrimusGFS introduced a new audit process.
This allows one portion of the audit, Desk Review, to be conducted remotely using the free on-line tools developed by Azzule.
This change will ultimately reduce human interaction during the on-site audit. With many years of experience in the food safety industry, we are able to provide you and your certification body online tools to complete the Desk Review Process. The tools have been developed and are available now in the PrimusGFS System and Azzule Supply Chain Program.
What are the policies on PrimusGFS temporary extension?
Aligned with the GFSI public position (found here), PrimusGFS is offering the option for six-month certificate extensions that may be granted when requested by a certified operation.
The policies are found HERE. To apply for an audit certificate extension, please directly contact your Certification Body before the certificate expires
PrimusGFS Desk Review
What is PrimusGFS Desk Review?
The PrimusGFS Desk Review is a new alternative that Azzule has incorporated into the audit process in order to expedite the on-site portion of the audit. This audit approach will allow an auditor to review all applicable documents related to the organization’s PrimusGFS program prior to arriving on-site. An organization has the choice to apply for a full documentation review prior to an on-site audit
What should I do/prepare if I want to apply for a PrimusGFS Desk Review?
1. Contact your Certification Body to determine the details about the audit plan and submit an audit application.
2. Conduct a 1st party self-assessment for your operation and prepare the required documents as electronic files.
3. Share the 1st party self-assessment and required documents with your Certification Body. This can be accomplished by either one or more of the following methods:
– Use of the PrimusGFS 1st party self-audit module
– Use of the Compliance Grid Tool in the Azzule Supply Chain Program tosubmit the required documents.
– Use of another secure information-sharing tool (if requested by your Certification Body).
Please note that the results of a desk review will be reported in the Preliminary Audit Report. It will not be shared prior to the on-site inspection.
Is there any additional costs in order to use the desk review process?
PrimusGFS will not charge any additional fees for this audit process. However, please contact your certification body to ask for a quote for this auditing process.
Is there any additional fees to gain access to the 1st party audit tool in the PrimusGFS System or the Compliance Grid Tool developed by Azzule?
No, there is no fees charged for you to gain the access to the 1st party audit tool in the PrimusGFS System.
It should be available for you after you login to the PrimusGFS System. If you don’t see that please contact your certification body to obtain the access.
There is no additional cost to use Compliance Grid Tool to share your documents with your CBs.
If you are a new user for Azzule Supply Chain Program, please register your account free at https://secure.azzule.com/SupplyChain/SupplierRegistration/SupplierRegistration.aspx
Is this Desk Review option permanent or is it just limited to the duration of the current crisis?
The Desk Review option is permanently available and will be added to the future versions of the PrimusGFS audit.
What is the purpose of the Desk Review + On site Auditing scenario?
In the times of a pandemic, this inspection style should reduce time spent on site, and risk of several people positioned in one location.
If a desk review is conducted prior to an on-site inspection, the full audit must hold the same quality and integrity.
Where can I access training materials regarding the new releases to the PrimusGFS System?
Is it mandatory to add the country of destination to the products that are added to an application?
No, it is not mandatory for an auditee to add country of destination information, but the auditee users are required to add seasonality for each product. The Certification Body or auditor can help the auditee add the country of destination information later on. Both country of destination and seasonality information will be listed in the PrimusGFS certificate, which may help you comply with your customers’ expectations.
What is shipper access?
Shipper access is a permission that is granted by a supplier to a shipper on the system. Depending on the permissions granted, a shipper user will be able to monitor and help their suppliers’ auditing processes by submitting applications and corrective actions on behalf of their supplier.
Sometimes growers are busy with their responsibilities or have no access to the internet/computer. In these cases, a shipper that has a close business relationship could participate and help assist with the auditing processes. If the suppliers do not want to grant any shipper access, there are no additional actions for them to take.
If a shipper was not added while completing the application, is it possible to add them after the audit has been completed?
Yes, your Certification Body will be able to help you add a shipper to your audit in case you were unable to add them while completing the application.
Can a shipper be listed on the audit certificate?
No, the shipper will be listed on the audit documents (including the final audit report & corrective action summary report), but not on the certificate.
What is the intent of the Farm (2.02.10), Indoor Agricultural (3.02.12), and Harvest Crew question (4.05.01) “Is the audited area free from animal presence and/or animal activity (wild or domestic)?”
The intent for this question and conformance criteria is for an auditor and operation to identify and report systematic evidence that a particular operation has not (or does not) controlled or reduced the presence of animal activity at growing or harvesting locations, and the animals are a risk to their production process and product. (e.g., animals’ ongoing activity in the growing grounds, equipment, crops, etc.).
A farm location that has systematic animal activity within the crop/production may be down scored since the finding meets the intent of the question being present in the PrimusGFS standard. For example, do birds land into the production area to feast on insects, or do the birds have overhead structures near or within the production area to perch? Is there an animal habitat near the operation? Are there animal tracks, fecal matter, feathers in or around the crops, growing/production area, storage areas (e.g., equipment, agronomic inputs, etc.)?
An auditor must use sound judgment before raising a nonconformance for an isolated event of a bird flying overhead or around the farm. The area under the bird’s flight path must be inspected for potential contamination due to fecal matter, etc.