NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said on Monday that suppliers of its private label and certain other food items, like produce, meat and fish, must comply with Global Food Safety Initiative standards.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said GFSI standards provide real-time details on where suppliers fall short in food safety on a plant-by-plant basis, and go beyond the current audit process required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Under the GFSI program, producers of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club private label and other foods sold in the United States must be audited by independently trained, approved and licensed auditors who are experts in their industry, the retailer said.

Wal-Mart said suppliers will be required to complete initial certification between July and December of 2008, with full certification required by July 2009.

Wal-Mart said its Asda stores in the United Kingdom and its Seiyu stores in Japan also require suppliers of food products to comply with GFSI standards.

Wal-Mart’s private label food brands in the United States include Great Value and Sam’s Choice, while its U.S. Sam’s Club private label food brands include Member’s Mark and Bakers & Chefs.