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Equitable Food Initiative

Equitable Food Initiative
Responsibly Grown. Farmworker Assured™
Jennifer Watters, Client Services Manager, Sustainability 510-452-8054 Email

The Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) cultivates a healthier, safer and more sustainable produce supply chain by combining food safety, pesticide management, and the fair treatment of workers under one certification. EFI’s coalition of growers, retailers, unions, NGOs, and consumer rights groups developed the EFI Standards, which include indicators for responsible labor and environmental practices, and increased worker involvement in food safety management. EFI certification requires the training of farmworkers, an annual third-party audit, and ongoing worker-led verification of compliance with EFI Standards.

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Program Details

EFI Standards apply to all fresh fruit and vegetable crops, focusing on three core components: labor practices, pesticide application, and food safety.

EFI Labor Standards: Labor indicators ensure that a safe, dignified and professional workplace is provided that promotes collaboration between management and farmworkers. The indicators include worker health and safety, freedom of association, fair wages, benefits and conditions of employment, freedom from discrimination and retaliation, dispute settlement, employer-provided housing, and protections for H2A and guest worker programs applicable to farmworkers.

EFI Pesticide Standards: Pesticide indicators promote an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, emphasizing the use
of biological and cultural tools for crop and pest management rather than the use of highly hazardous pesticides, therefore minimizing the impact of pesticides on workers and the environment. The indicators include the management of pests, soil, water, and habitat, and promote IPM.

EFI Food Safety Standards: Food Safety indicators, including farmworker hygiene alongside water use, soil amendments, land use, animals, harvest, and post-harvest activities, are linked to worker training that creates a culture of food safety on the farm.

Process
Grower Mapping

Contact EFI to discuss your operations in more detail. This allows EFI to get a better understanding of what will be required for your farm to achieve certification, before issuing a quote for service.

Training

EFI works with the farm to develop a Leadership Team that represents all parts of the workforce. The Leadership Team receives advanced training to help bring the farm into compliance with the EFI Standards.

Auditing and Certification

SCS audits the farm and its workforce to assess compliance with the EFI Standards. A corrective action plan, which addresses any non-compliances, must be completed before a certification can be issued.

Product Labeling

Once certified, products can be labeled with the “Responsibly Grown. Farmworker Assured.TM” certification mark, after a Licensing Agreement has been signed.

Ongoing Verification

The Leadership Team monitors the operations throughout the year to assure the certification is being maintained.

Recertification

EFI requires follow-up engagements and on-going training in order to achieve re-certification on a yearly basis.

FAQs

How does EFI differ from other standards that address similar issues?

  • Ongoing worker involvement in monitoring and verification sets EFI apart from existing certification processes. The produce industry takes food safety concerns very seriously and has developed measures to address them. Under EFI standards, farm workers are directly involved in the design and implementation of protocols, and are trained to work together with management to reduce pesticide and pathogen risks. Most farms are already required to comply with a range of generic and retailer-specific standards, for which they are audited. But even the most comprehensive third-party audits can only provide a snapshot of compliance levels on a given day. EFI approach creates both an on-farm mechanism (the Leadership Team) and an incentive (improved working conditions assured by the Standard) through which farm workers can work with management to identify and address threats to food safety and social accountability on a continuous basis.

How can I prepare for EFI Certification?

Does EFI recognize any other standards for equivalency?

  • EFI significantly reduces the length of the audit for operations holding qualified GlobalGAP and SQF certifications. Additional certifications are currently being benchmarked in order to continue reducing the audit burden on growers.
Benefits

EFI works collaboratively to deliver:

  • Integrated approach for food safety, working conditions, and pesticide management
  • Stronger relationships among growers, customers and farm workers
  • Ongoing verification of compliance to Standards, assuring a safer, more sustainable product for retailers and consumers
  • Trained, more engaged farm workforce, providing added product assurance for growers, retailers and consumers
  • Collaborative, inclusive approach to creating industry relevant solutions that address retail and consumer needs

Request Information

For immediate service:

Jennifer Watters, Client Services Manager, Sustainability 510-452-8054 Email Jennifer