The Equitable Food Initiative has added to its certification standards so growers can show compliance with the principles of the Ethical Charter of Responsible Labor Practices.

The charter, created by the Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association, outlines the basics of responsible labor practices. Many industry companies and retailers have endorsed the charter, meaning they committed in writing to using it to inform their supply chain practices, but the charter does not include a verification mechanism.

EFI aims to provide one with its new Ethical Charter Addendum, which lays out standards of employee treatment and means of confirming grower compliance during the EFI audit process.

“Retail and foodservice buyers have expressed interest in receiving assurance that their suppliers adhere to the principles of the Ethical Charter,” executive director Peter O’Driscoll said in a news release. “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.”

Buyers that have endorsed the charter, which made its debut in 2018, include Costco, Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons, among others.

“The Ethical Charter was developed to address industrywide concerns around labor practices, which we know can have a direct impact on food safety,” Ernie Farley, partner in San Diego, Calif.-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, which markets under the Good Farms brand, and board chairman for EFI, said in the release. “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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