Food Quality and Safety in the Farm
Certification of Integrated Management Systems in Agricultural and Food Process Production
Mediterranean food has held for many years a high position both domestically and internationally. The Mediterranean origin, purity of soils, climatic conditions etc. contribute to an ‘easy’ adoption of Mediterranean food from all consumers. Unfortunately quality control and food safety does not always depend on the producer and the processor. Statistics show that many foods are bound either due to non-compliances at primary production (high pesticide concentration), or due to the process of treatment and disposal (e.g. salmonella). Actually, one can find on the Internet several EU-cared information systems for announcing and warning operators and consumers on issues regarding unsafe food. One of them is the «Rapid Alert System» which is available for subscription to all stakeholders.
In order to mitigate and eliminate the disposal of unsafe food to the consumer, the idea of developing new Product certification standards commonly, accepted by all stakeholders both locally and globally, has been adopted. The participation has been spectacular and standards such as those of AGRO series (Greece), GLOBALGAP, LEAF Marque etc. were developed, and implemented, while in most cases the creation of standards has been supported by many experienced technical teams from around the world.
Standards of the AGRO series were created and implemented at national level, while standards such as GLOBALGAP, LEAF Marque, TESCO NURTURE etc. could easily be classified as the ones internationally accepted. They are clear, straightforward in their demands and consumer oriented. Above all these efforts, there has been the common position of scientists, consumers, wholesalers, certification bodies and other interested parties in the Accreditation need for most of these standards.
The response from all stakeholders is admirable and has one common purpose: Safe food to the consumer’s table.
The AGRO 2.1-2.2 standard (Rural Environment Management – System Integrated Management in Agricultural Production) is applicable to all crops and it is highly supported by traditional Co-Ops as well as the Office of Agriculture within the Ministry. Certification according to the standards GLOBALG.AP, LEAF Marque, TESCO NURTURE, QS has been declared as a prerequisite for the purchase and sale of agricultural products. This requirement has been stated by many Consumer Groups and Supermarkets in the Europe and around the world.. The response is great, as Producer Groups from Chile, South Africa, Florida-USA, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt and other countries certify their products and make them available at affordable prices in “difficult markets”. Certification cost is normally absorbed by the market price of the agricultural product and thus by the consumer who is willing to cover the difference, provided that the product is safe for consumption.
Q-CERT operates in countries of Europe, Asia and Africa regions through a network of partners and collaborating bodies and provide accredited certification services through accreditation by E.SY.D. for the AGRO 2.1-2.2 standard and in exclusive partnership with NSF Certification for the GLOBALGAP, TESCO NURTURE, LEAF Marque, QS standards.