Q&A: CanadaGAP Certification

  • Open Can I still request an audit in 2020?

    We are still actively booking 2020 audits with the assumption that they can be performed onsite. As always, when scheduling your audit, we strive to reach a mutual agreement on audit dates, however as we move through the year, we may experience a lack in flexibility. If you require an audit this year it is best to secure your dates with our scheduling team immediately. As we work with you to book your audit dates, we will require your quick response and commitment, so we can deliver the right audit, with a qualified auditor in a time frame that meets your needs.

    If travel and visitor restrictions continue into Q3 and Q4, we will contact you with approved alternatives to your onsite audit.

  • Open Do I qualify for a remote audit?

    Your site may qualify for a remote audit if it meets the following criteria:

    • The audit being conducted is not the first visit (initial audit) by NSF to the facility.
    • The previous audit conducted at the facility occurred in 2019 and the score of that audit was equal to or greater than 85%.
    • Scope of the current remote audit is the same as the scope of the previous audit.
    • You can confirm your site meets the technology usage requirements
    • Specifying clients must approve of the remote audit process
  • Open Will my customer accept a remote audit? What is the benefit of a remote audit?

    Several major retailers are accepting remote audits during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are conducting remote audits for facilities that manufacture and store food and food packaging, as well as audits involving animal welfare practices.

  • Open When should I book my onsite audit?

    We are currently working to contact all clients with dates for their 2020 audits with the assumption that they can be performed onsite. As always, when scheduling your audit, we strive to reach a mutual agreement on audit dates, however as we move through the year, we may experience a lack in flexibility.

    As we reach out to book your audit dates, we will require your quick response and commitment, so we can deliver the right audit, with a qualified auditor in a time frame that meets your needs.  If you need to submit any production or blackout dates that may fall into your audit boundary window, please contact your Customer Service/Scheduling Representative immediately. We will do our best to work within your guidelines.

    If travel and visitor restrictions continue into Q3 and Q4, we will contact you with approved alternatives to your onsite audit.

  • Open How long can I extend my certification?

    In some cases, Certification Program Owners are allowing extensions up to 6 months. Due to the increased volume of audits expected in the last half of the year, NSF will schedule your onsite audit roughly 60-90 days after your successful Risk Assessment. Your 2021 boundary window will not be reset by the extension granted in 2020, so scheduling your onsite audit as close to your original audit boundary window will help spread out the additional stress of an onsite food safety audit.

  • Open What precautions are your auditors taking before arriving onsite?

    NSF commits that its employees and contractors will take the following steps before, during and after a visit to any client facility in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Where a client or local safety authority issues requirements different from the requirements below, NSF will follow whichever requirement is strictest.

    On a daily basis, our representatives will:

    • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms
    • Check temperatures every morning to confirm no fever (99.5° F /37.5° C or greater
    • Stay home if showing symptoms of COVID-19 or a fever
    • Carry hand sanitizer and use as needed whenever hand washing facilities are not available

    Before entering a client site, our representatives will ask the following 3 questions of the client:

    • Do you have anyone on the premises who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
    • Do you have any specific health and safety control measures NSF needs to be aware of prior to our visit?
    • Are there any local safety requirements NSF needs to be aware of?

    Once at the client site, our representatives will:

    • Always wear a mask, unless (1) providing training, in which case a distance of 2m/6ft will be maintained or (2) a client expressly asks us not to, in writing

    We will bring our own masks; however, we will wear a client-issued mask if requested. Masks will be discarded (if disposable) or washed (if reusable) at the end of the work day. Where possible, commercially available masks will be used; otherwise, self-made masks may be used

    • Leave personal effects in an area separate from cafeterias or other eating areas
    • Sanitize mobile phones or other equipment before entering the client site
    • Wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before beginning work and as needed during the client visit
    • Avoid physical contact with client personnel (no shaking of hands, etc.)
    • Avoid close proximity to client personnel, maintaining a social distance of 2m/6ft where possible, both while actively working and during any breaks

      For example:
      For any document review or similar work to be performed by NSF representatives, we will request a separate workspace if possible. We will not participate in working lunches and will not take breaks in the client’s break room if such room is too small to allow appropriate social distancing.

    After the client visit

    If an NSF representative is diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of a client visit, NSF will immediately notify the client of such diagnosis.

  • Open What is the difference between a desk audit, a remote and a risk assessment?

    Remote audits are not an option for Certified Program Owners (BRC, SQF, IFS, and FSSC). Risk assessments are an option for BRC, SQF, and FSSC and they allow for a 6-month extension. A Risk Assessment consists of a document review and follow-up interviews. It does not result in Non-Conformances.

    Remote audits consist of document reviews, interviews and possible virtual facility tours. A full audit report and non-conformances will be issued.

  • Open What happens to my listing in Repositrak? Will I still be visible as certified on the public directory?

    SQF requires clients to maintain their registration in Repositrak as per section 1.3 of the SQF code. Although NSF is granting extensions to certificates, sites may appear as not-listed on the Repositrak database.

  • Open Our corporate policy will not allow outside visitors into the facility and my certificate is close to expiry, what alternatives do you have for onsite audits?

    Supplier Assurance

    Audits to the NSF Supplier Assurance proprietary audit standards can be conducted using remote technology provided that the facility is eligible, and the audit type qualifies for remote auditing. Eligible sites include those which:

    • Have had an audit with NSF in 2019 with a resultant audit score of 85% or above
    • Have not undergone major changes since the previous audit
    • Have been approved by NSF SA technical management for the remote audit based on information gathered from the NSF COVID Client Information Form

    The remote audit duration is unchanged from the onsite duration. Post-audit activities are determined based on the success of the remotely conducted visit to cover all the expectations of the audit standard.


    BRC is allowing risk assessments to be completed for all sites except:

    • Sites that are currently certified with a grade C or D; these sites are classified as high risk and we cannot extend their certificate expiry date
    • Transferred sites, which must go back to their previous CB that conducted their last physical audit onsite to file for an extension

    The risk assessment duration = 2 to 4 hours. On the auditor’s calendar schedule for .5 days.

    All unannounced audits will be temporarily suspended and become announced.


    FSSC is requiring risk assessments to be completed to justify the postponement of surveillance audits and extension of certificates.

    Surveillance – risk assessments to be completed by an auditor

    • Duration = 2 hours (Minimum set by FSSC)
    • Outcome – suspend 4.1 or maintain 4.1 with a delayed surveillance audit

    Recertification – risk assessments to be completed by auditor.

    • Duration = 2 hours (Minimum set by FSSC)
    • Outcome – Suspend or extend certificate up to 6 months

    Full V5 re-certification needs to take place within 6 months extension window, with time to ensure that the extended certificate does not expire.


    IFS is allowing a remote surveillance check.

    • The duration is 1 day

    GMP Check Proposal for after the travel ban is lifted.

    • The duration is 1 day

    Neither options are mandatory or recognized by GFSI.


    The are no remote options. For SQF, complete the SQFI Extension Risk Assessment Questionnaire and email it to the SQF Technical Manager.

    • TSM is to complete the risk assessment and will extend boundary window 6 months
    • Transfers that have not been audited by us can only be extended by the previous CB

    Surveillance Audits – Surveillance audits that fall within a “Medium” or “High” risk from the Extension Risk Assessment warrant a CB to complete “remote activities”.

  • Open Which GFSI standard/scheme should I pick to certify to?

    Several standards fall under the GFSI scope, which can be confusing when you need to select just one. Some standards are geared toward particular industry sectors (GLOBALG.A.P. for agriculture, BAP for seafood), but outside of that, it is up to individual companies to select which is right for them. As your chosen certifier, NSF can walk you through the various standards and provide insight and guidance on which would be most appropriate for your company.

  • Open How can NSF help me prepare for GFSI certification?

    NSF has the expertise and experience to assist your facility at every step in preparing for and maintaining certification to GFSI benchmarked standards including training, technical advice, pre-assessment audits, GFSI audits/certification and re-assessment audits.

  • Open How long does it take to prepare for GFSI certification?

    Preparing for GFSI certification is different for every facility based on the current development of the facility, quality of recordkeeping and the resources your company may have to prepare for GFSI certification.  It generally takes an average of six to nine months to prepare for GFSI certification. Please contact us at +1 877.893.1325 or foodsafetysolutions@nsf.org to discuss the process and determine your estimated timeline to certification.

  • Open How far in advance should I schedule my NSF GFSI certification audit?

    NSF companies are the largest GFSI certifier in the world, certifying to nearly all categories within the GFSI standards. We recommend that you schedule your audits as far as six to nine months in advance to assure the date(s) you desire. Many factors determine availability including the category, time of year, standard, etc. Contact us at +1 877.893.1325 or foodsafetysolutions@nsf.org to discuss our availability for your category and desired standard.

  • Open What is CanadaGAP?

    CanadaGAP is a food safety program for fresh fruits and vegetables. The program consists of national food safety standards and a certification system for produce suppliers. Two manuals, one specific to greenhouse operations and one for other fruit and vegetable operations, have been designed for companies implementing good agricultural practices (GAPs) in their operations. The program is based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and undergoes a rigorous technical review and oversight by Canadian government officials.  The program is open to suppliers who need to demonstrate to their customers that they are meeting food safety requirements. Program participants are required to pass a third-party audit specifically based on the CanadaGAP manuals.

  • Open Is CanadaGAP a government program?

    No. CanadaGAP is owned by CanAgPlus, a not-for-profit corporation. However, government has played a key role in program development, and maintains oversight of any changes to technical requirements. Each commodity-specific module has undergone a rigorous technical review by a team of specialists from the federal and provincial governments. The program’s development was made possible by federal funding.

  • Open How does CanadaGAP compare to other food safety programs around the world?

    CanadaGAP is the first Canadian food safety program to be internationally recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). In May 2010 GFSI formally benchmarked and approved CanadaGAP certification options B and C as meeting international requirements for on-farm food safety. For more information about GFSI and the benchmarking process, visit www.mygfsi.com.  Through the benchmarking process, CanadaGAP is establishing equivalent status to other internationally recognized food safety programs, such as SQF, PrimusGFS and GLOBALG.A.P. (food safety elements only). These efforts position CanadaGAP-certified companies to remain competitive and use a unique, made-in-Canada program to meet international customer demands.