TORONTO, CA: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) presented the Canadian Herb, Spice and Natural Health Products Coalition (CHSNC) with their Technical Letter of Completion – Part One for the CHSNC Good Agriculture and Collection Practices (GACP) Program during the 2008 Natural Health Products Research Society (NHPRS) Annual Conference in Toronto on March 27. The NHPRS conference attracts leaders and researchers in the NHP industry from across Canada, the USA and internationally.
This is one of several projects of the voluntary industry-led Canadian approach to on-farm food safety (OFFS). The objective of Technical Review-Part One is to confirm the program is technically sound, and adheres to Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.
“This is a very exciting achievement for the CHSNC OFFS Technical Committee, who have put a tremendous amount of time and effort to develop this comprehensive national GACP program for growers and wildharvesters,” says Connie Kehler, CHSNC Executive Director. The GACP Program covers medicinal and culinary herbs (cultivated and wildharvested), spice crops, hemp, wild crops (such as mushrooms and fiddleheads) and natural health products . The program scope is from plant identification, production and harvest through post-harvest handling. Identity, safety, quality and traceability are the foundation of this risk managed, outcome-based GACP Program.
Gilles Lemieux the CFIA On-Farm Food Safety Recognition Section Team Leader for the technical review said: "CHSNC put a lot of work developing their On-Farm Food Safety program, congratulations on a job well done and thank-you to all federal, provincial and territorial government representatives who participated".
Through a wide range of pilot projects, the GACP Program has proven to be user friendly, flexible and can be customized to meet a wide range of producer/wildharvested operations. For example, the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association and others plan to use the GACPs as a standard base for their growers. Because this program is based on a system built on risk assessment and outcome based practices, growers and wildharvesters can easily integrate their GACP program with other on-farm programs such as Organic Certification, Industry Buyer Programs, Environmental Farm Plans, Ethical Wildharvesting, etc. Since a large number of this industry sells raw material into the Natural Health Products Industry, the supportive role of the Natural Health Product Directorate in development of this program was not only unique but vital.
“For this industry, regardless of whether the ingredient ends up as a food, a medicine or a cosemtic, the identity and purity of raw botanicals is a priority,” explains Kehler. “What makes our program unique is the inclusion of a comprehensive practice, the first of its kind in the world, that helps guide growers and collectors in properly identifying their raw material.” The Coalition is proud of the prestigious team that came together from across Canada and the US to build this key practice, such as the American Herbal Products Association, the Herb Research Foundation, Royal Roads University, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the GAP Development Team of World Health Organization (WHO).
Kehler notes, “one of the Program strengths is the unique opportunity of linking the whole chain from field to shelf, from production through to finished product for food and natural health products. The collaboration of non-regulatory and regulatory aspects, including CFIA, AAFC, Health Canada, Environment Canada, WHO and others, is unique for food and health products around the world. We were very happy to have the Natural Health Products Directorate on the team developing these practices.”
For the CHSNC, the next steps will be working with various industry organizations across Canada to offer training to the several hundred growers and wildharvesters interested in enrolling in the voluntary GACP Program. “This Program positions the Canadian industry and the growers and wildharvesters as leaders in supplying top quality products that adhere to targeted HACCP-based on-farm food safety protocols to buyers and consumers in Canada, North America and around the world.”
The CHSNC gratefully acknowledges the support of the volunteer development team who spent many hours on this project.
CHSNC also gratefully acknowledges the support of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Food Safety and Quality Program under the Agricultural Policy Framework, which has provided funding for the development of the CHSNC on-farm food safety program. The Agricultural Policy Framework is a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
The Canadian Herb, Spice and Natural Health Products Coalition (CHSNC) is a group of industry members across the country who represent the herb, spice and natural health products (both cultivated and wild-harvested) industry in their region. The Coalition represents the full industry chain from field to shelf, from production, processing and manufacturing, research and regulations through to practitioners, retailers and consumers. The Coalition was formed to work together nationally to address national industry issues, including product safety, quality and traceability. The Saskatchewan Herb and Spice Association is the secretariat for the CHSNC.
CHSNC supports this industry with 26 representatives across the country. They sit on the Management Advisory Committee for the Natural Health Product Directorate, are founding directors of the Natural Health Product Research Society, Nutri Net Canada, Canadian Agriculture Human Resource Sector Council, vice chair and part of the development of the Can - Trace Standards and sit on the Special Crops and Organic Value Chain Round tables. They have worked with Environment Canada on Access Benefit Sharing/Certificate of Origin and presented their identification and traceability model to the Convention of Biological Diversity in Lima, Peru in 2007. They also are a member and work together with the Canadian Spice Association.
This coalition works together nationally and internationally to further develop this industry through collaborations and partnerships.