What is the GLOBAL G.A.P Chain of Custody audit?

There has been a lot of buzz and confusion in recent months regarding the GLOBALG.A.P. Chain of Custody (CoC) audits and certification. The GLOBALG.A.P. Chain of Custody Standard is an important certification for all role players in the supply chain who handle certified products. It assures customers and consumers that products with GLOBALG.A.P. labels are harvested from farms with certification. A.S.C. Consultants auditors and consultants have been involved in numerous CoC Certification audits and, after seeing the need, we decided to outline what this certification audit entails clearly.

What is the Chain of Custody (CoC) Certification?

The chain of custody certification addresses the traceability of the product from farm level, packing, right through to the end consumer. It aims to assure customers that the GLOBALG.A.P. status claim on the product sold is legitimate. In other words, when there is a claim that the product sold to consumers has been harvested, packed, and handled in a GLOBALG.A.P. certified facility, this would need to be proven. Thus, any company in the supply chain where such a claim has been made would need a CoC number. The CoC standard ensures that certified products can be identified and separated from certified products throughout the supply chain. If you pack both GLOBALG.A.P. certified and uncertified products, there must be evidence of segregation measures implemented to prevent a mix-up.

For example, you may need CoC certification if you are a citrus or stone fruit packhouse and receive products from a GLOBALG.A.P. certified grower. The auditor would look at your organisation’s traceability documents, invoices, and sales documentation. It helps if the organisation has traceability software that traces the product from the source until delivery, making things very easy.

What should you prepare for the CoC certification?

You need to make sure that your traceability system is functioning properly, and it can trace all products from source to wherever the product is being delivered. Ensure that relevant documents such as sales documents, traceability information, and in some cases, invoices must be in place. The CoC audit should go easier if you have an existing food safety management system audited by a third party.

What will the auditor look for in Chain Of Custody (CoC) Audit?

The auditor will use the CoC standard and go through the checklist to verify the following:

  • Can the certified products be identified throughout the supply chain?
  • Are the products you claim to be GLOBAL G.A.P. certified sourced from a certified supplier?

The auditor would check the physical segregation of the products and look at the documentation in place. The batch codes or pallet I.D.s or any traceability system you use. It helps to have a management system in place, for example, B.R.C., I.F.S., FSSC 22000 or any other FSMS. The auditor will also want to do backward and forward traceability to trace the volumes of each of the commodities handled by the organisation.

Who does not need Chain of Custody or CoC certification?

  • If you buy GLOBAL G.A.P. certified products but do not wish to sell them as certified, you do not need certification.
  • If your organisation is a freight forwarding agent and take no ownership of the product, you do not need CoC certification.
  • You do not need the CoC certification if you are merely a subcontractor.
  • If both primary and secondary production belongs to the same entity or has the same ownership, you do not need Chain of Custody (CoC) certification. For example, the packhouse and the farms have the same owner, and the farms are GLOBALG.A.P. certified, then CoC certification is not required by the packhouse. However, should the packhouse pack be for different producers, then the packhouse would require CoC certification.


It is important that for your chain of custody to be maintained, you sell your products with G.G.N. or CoC number, and in your sale documents, a Global G.A.P. claim must appear on the sales documents. Lastly, only organisations with a successful GLOBALG.A.P. audit must put their G.G.N. number on packaging or invoices.

Should you need help with the GLOBALG.A.P. Chain of Custody (CoC) audit, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@ascconsultants.co.za.


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