Equitable Food Initiative Adds an Ethical Charter Addendum to Certification Standards
WASHINGTON, DC - As our industry continues to change and grow, so too do our accountability standards and responsibilities. Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) recently released a revised set of certification standards, including a new Ethical Charter Addendum, which helps growers demonstrate their commitment to ethical labor practices.
“Retail and foodservice buyers have expressed interest in receiving assurance that their suppliers adhere to the principles of the Ethical Charter,” stated EFI Executive Director Peter O'Driscoll. “With our Ethical Charter Addendum, participating growers will be able to let their customers know they meet or exceed the charter’s principles, validated by EFI and verified by a third-party auditor.”
According to a press release, the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices provides members of the fresh produce industry with principles to help them develop a framework in which responsible labor practices are encouraged and accounted for. Growers who are audited and certified to full EFI standards can be confident that they abide by the Charter principles.
“Growers who are early adopters of the principles outlined in the Charter can gain a competitive advantage,” stated O’Driscoll. “The principles align directly with growing consumer demand for increased transparency.”
The Ethical Charter turned one in July of this year. It was unveiled to the industry after it was created by the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and the United Fresh Produce Association. It’s thereafter been endorsed by retailers like Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Wegmans, and Military Produce Group.
“EFI’s approach is unique among certifications as it is built on the proven idea that improving how workers are recruited, engaged, and managed results in better food safety and strengthened business performance,” said Kenton Harmer, Director of Certification and Impact. “The producers that are choosing to include the Ethical Charter Addendum in their EFI audit are not only communicating their alignment with the buying community on these important issues but are also demonstrating that they are the leaders in reducing risks to their workers, their business, and their consumers.”
Ernie Farley, Partner with Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce and Board Chair for EFI, added, “The Ethical Charter was developed to address industry-wide concerns around labor practices, which we know can have a direct impact on food safety. EFI is being proactive in providing solutions, and that will strengthen the industry in the long-term, providing growers with the tools they need and buyers with the information they want.”
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