The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is committed to delivering the timely services needed to support the movement of America’s food supply and will continue to take steps to meet challenges due to the COVID-19 national emergency.
To aid the movement of fresh specialty crops into marketing channels, AMS is extending the expiration date of USDA audit certifications scheduled to expire on or before May 31, 2020, by 60 days. USDA audit certifications are normally valid for 12 months. The certification extension applies to 400 current auditees certified under the USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Domestic Origin Verification and Plant Systems Audit programs.
AMS is advising affected auditees of their 60-day extension and is updating information under “Find a USDA Gap-Certified Company” on the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) & Good Handling Practices (GHP) webpage to reflect the extended audit expiration dates.
Extending the expiration date for auditees with current certifications will allow AMS to concentrate resources on providing food safety verification audits for entities new to USDA audit programs who require certification to move product into commerce.
The extension is in alignment with the International Accreditation Forum’s Informative Document for Management of Extraordinary Events or Circumstances Affecting Accreditation Bodies and Certifying Organizations, Issue 1, which establishes guidelines for extending food safety audit certifications. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) also has communicated that, based on risk, certification bodies may be able to extend certifications under extraordinary circumstances for up to six months.
AMS recognizes that USDA specialty crops inspections and audits are critical to the nation’s food supply chain, and we are committed to ensuring the continuity of our audit operations.