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The production and processing methods of today’s food suppliers are of growing concern to government agencies, industry and the public. The public has become more informed about their food over the years due primarily to the efforts of grass roots, third party watch dog agencies. This knowledge has spurred demand for organic foods, non genetically modified products and stronger quality controls for the growth and distribution of conventionally produced foods. Also, companies that demonstrate care for workers who grow and harvest their produce are often rewarded with strong loyalty by many of their business customers and regular consumers. Meeting their customers’ expectations for food safety and ethical production practices is so important to businesses that many of them employ C-level executives called Chief Sustainability Officers to better integrate social responsibility into their business models. Here are some ways that food and farming related certifications can help companies to demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility, provide healthier food options to their customers and ultimately boost their financial earnings in the long term.
Organic Certification Standards Support Farm Worker Safety
A famous Latina actress was once interviewed about her food choices, and she mentioned that she buys mostly organic produce. She said that she became aware of the health hazards that farm chemicals imparted to her less wealthy Latino brothers and sisters who are the primary laborers on today’s farms. She wanted to do her small part to support certified organic farms that use healthier food production methods. Her voice is beginning to echo among self aware celebrities as well as average citizens. Food safety certification helps farms to become official, organic produce suppliers that are less likely to be the cause of health hazards to their employees.
Good Agricultural and Food Handling Practices Improve Farm Worker Safety Standards
The certification standards for non-organic farms also support the health and safety of farm workers by ensuring that certified farms have policies in place for the application of pesticides that reduces workers’ contact with the toxic chemicals. After farm produce is picked, the harvested crops are usually kept in nearby storage facilities. Food safety certifications that facilitate the auditing of food handling practices ensure that farm facilities are as hygienic as possible. Pests like ants, roaches and rodents spread diseases that can impact food safety as well as farm labor health. Food storage and handling centers that undergo food safety certification must have policies in place concerning the elimination or reduction of rodents and other pests.
The Advent of Fair Labor Certification
Today’s corporations are being held to higher standards when it comes to treating their laborers fairly. Since modern technology has made supply chain activities nearly seamless and a lot more transparent than before, large corporations have no excuse for using unethical labor practices or partnering with supply companies that use them. Nowhere are these practices more blatant than in the agricultural industry, and farm worker advocates have encouraged farming operations to gain third party, fair labor certifications to combat this issue. Fair labor certification helps to make sure that farm laborers are able to gain access to clean housing, food and water as well as adequate healthcare and standard minimum wages. Ideally, the farms that are willing to become fair labor certified will be rewarded by companies and end users who want to do business only with ethical farm operations.