The Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is opening a new stakeholder consultation today under the Technical Equivalence Program for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS) Harmonized GAP Plus+ version 4.0, issued on July 1, 2022. The deadline for consultation responses is March 16, 2024.

The Technical Equivalence program is designed to benchmark government-owned standards against Part III of GFSI Benchmarking Requirements. Where those requirements are fulfilled, the relevant standard is granted Technical Equivalence to acknowledge alignment of the given standard’s content to the relevant scope(s) of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements, Part III. Unlike GFSI recognition, Technical Equivalence does not include the assessment of the program’s governance or protocols for operational delivery.

USDA’s AMS administers programs that create domestic and international marketing opportunities for U.S. producers of food, fiber, and specialty crops. AMS also provides the agriculture industry with valuable services to ensure the quality and availability of wholesome food for consumers across the country and around the world. AMS is responsible for the management and oversight of the USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Program. The Harmonized GAP Plus+ version 4.0 standard was built on the concepts of risk identification, control and mitigation of risks, monitoring, verification, and documentation. It mirrors the Codex Alimentarius Principles of Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). Requirements of the USDA Harmonized GAP Plus+ version 4.0 standard reference adherence to “current industry practices,” “regulatory requirements,” and “prevailing regulations”— these may include, but are not limited to, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Produce and Plant Products.

The Technical Equivalence assessment process is encompassing GFSI scopes:

  • BI: Farming of Plants (other than grains and pulses)
  • BIII: Pre-process handling of plant products.

Based on the outcomes of the last public consultation from April 2022 on Technical Equivalence, the GFSI steering committee has decided on a new strategic direction for the future of the Technical Equivalence program. GFSI will provide more information in the near future.

To participate in the stakeholder consultation, download the consultation documents and email your comments and questions to