Assured Produce scheme cuts number of failure points

The Assured Produce (AP) scheme has reduced its number of critical failure points (CFPs) from more than 50 to just five.

The move is likely to come as a relief to many growers who felt under pressure at the prospect of being suspended from the scheme if they did not comply with one of the 50 points.

The new rules, which will come into force on 1 October, have been brought in to ensure that AP is in line with the UKAS EN45011 accreditation requirements.

These requirements are, in some ways, tougher than the old rules as they state that all non-conformances - to CFPs or other standards - have to be signed off before certification can be granted.

Previously, AP members were given some grace because some non-conformances were left open.

However, the reduction from 50 to just five CFPs is still likely to ease the pressure on growers.

The five remaining CFPs ensure food safety and relate to the following areas:

- illegal pesticide use;

- the breaking of harvest intervals or utilisation intervals;

- the use of sewage water for irrigation.

Last year, the British Independent Fruit Growers' Association (BIFGA) held a series of meetings in which they criticised the "silliness" of some of the old CFPs - which included not having a sprayer MOT or not using the AP logo correctly. The group also questioned the rights that AP auditors had to suspend growers for such "minor" reasons.

BIFGA chairman John Breach, who last year formed a focus group to challenge AP on the high number of CFPs, remains sceptical about the changes.

He told Grower: "There are still five too many (CFPs). I think growers will still be concerned that they can be closed down without warning.

"The changes are something that we will discuss at our next farm assurance meeting after harvest."

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