Spread Co., Ltd. has acquired “JAS 0012” certification, established by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The certificate is acquired for evaluating hygiene and cultivation management of a vertical farm, at its Kameoka Plant (Kameoka, Kyoto) and the large-scale automated Techno Farm Keihanna (Kizugawa, Kyoto) which delivers an operating rate of 99%.
JAS 0012 is the first certification in the world to be focused exclusively on vertical farms. Spread is able to contribute to global food safety and the delivery of health-associated (Sustainable Development Goals) SDGs by lowering food poisoning risk via its thorough hygiene and cultivation management practices. Domestically Spread is able to reassure customers of the quality and safety of vertically farmed produce and in doing so, establishes a high bar for food safety in the industry.
What certifies JAS 0012?
The certificate requires high-level safety management to satisfy MAFF’s standards. Next to that, the company needs to comprise the ability to consistently grow and supply high-quality vegetables over the long term. Finally, flexibility is needed to respond to the diversified needs of the foodservice industry.
(Photo credits: Spread Co., Ltd.)
What is JAS/JAS0012?
JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standards) are the Japanese national standards in the field of agricultural, forestry, fisheries and food industry, established by the MAFF. In addition to General JAS and Organic JAS, there is also Specific JAS, applied to high value-added or distinctive products. JAS 0012 is classified as Specific JAS and was established in 2019 to evaluate the hygiene and cultivation management of leafy greens in a vertical farm with artificial lighting.
Global demand for food safety
Fresh produce-related food poisoning is a common problem for food security. In particular, E. coli is often linked to leafy greens and outdoor-grown romaine lettuce, outbreaks have a relatively high rate of hospitalization, and are becoming more frequent. In the last decade there have been 40 leafy-greens-related outbreaks in North America, resulting in 420 hospitalizations and 8 deaths*1, *2, *3. Many view vertical farming as a solution, but not all vertical farmers operate at the same hygienic level. Even Japan, considered a well-established market with more than 200 vertical farms in operation*4, had no unified standard for the industry, until MAFF established JAS 0012 to certify superior operators in 2019. Nikkei estimates that only 10-20% of Japanese vertical farmers are able to satisfy the standard*5.
Spread has set its own hygiene management system since the Kameoka Plant went into operation in 2007. As first customers in Japan were reluctant to accept vertically farmed produce, Spread engaged in online and in-store educational events and helped to create a vertical farming market. With its Vegetus brand, Spread has sold over 70 million packs up until now and is present at more than 3,600 stores all over the country. Spread’s high-level hygiene and cultivation management standards have been acknowledged by the recent successful acquisition of JAS 0012. Before that, Spread’s efforts towards securing its workers’ safety, environmental sustainability, and traceability were granted “GLOBALG.A.P.” certification. With these accomplishments, Spread is ready to respond to the growing demand for safe, high-quality fresh produce.
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Spread Co., Ltd.
*1 Deane Falcone “E. Coli on the Rise: Lettuce Explain” Food Safety Tech, March 10, 2021
*2 “Estimates of Foodborne Illness in the United States” CDC
*3 Sara G. Miller “Leafy greens were linked to 40 E. coli outbreaks in a decade. Most involved romaine.” NBC News, September 16, 2020
*4 Michael Dent “Vertical Farming: 2020-2030. Technologies, markets and forecasts in indoor vertical growing” IdTechEx
*5 “Nosuisho, shokubutsukojo ni kikakushinsetsu kouhinnshitsu no saibai atooshi” [MAFF establishes new standard for vertical farm, backs high-quality cultivation]