Farmers & Growers

Produce Safety and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

Fruits and vegetables continue to be associated with foodborne illness outbreaks, including, but not limited to lettuce, spinach, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cilantro, and green onions.

 

Using good agricultural practices (GAP) is one way that farmers and growers can reduce the risk of microbial contamination of the fruits and vegetables they produce. GAP programs address the safety of water, manure use, sanitation, and personal hygiene practices on the farm, in the field, during harvest, packing, and transportation. 

 

(This site focuses on farmers who grow fruits and/or vegetables to sell.  If you are a home gardener or hobby farmer, go here to learn how to grow safe food in your garden.) 

 

Food Safety Modernization Act: Produce Safety Rule

The Produce Safety Rule of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was implemented in January 2016.  The rule establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fresh fruits and vegetables. This is the first comprehensive federal regulation to be applied to the produce growing industry. 
 

In Connecticut, the Rule will be implemented by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg).  

 

Tools for farmers

Farmers preparing to comply with the Rule, and/or choosing to make safe production and handling a business priority may want to:

    • Attend a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training course
    • Participate in an On Farm Readiness Review (OFRR) or other one-on-one informational visit from UConn Extension personnel
    • Use toolsfor meeting Rule standards, implementing Good Agriculture Practices, writing food safety plans and developing traceback programs

Market access programs

Often, to gain access to certain buyers of fresh fruits and vegetables, including grocery stores, distributors, schools, restaurants and other markets, a farm will need to participate in some type of program to ensure that they are following good agricultural practices to reduce risks for foodborne illness.

 

CGAP:  The DoAg is developing a market access program for Connecticut farmers.  CGAP (Connecticut GAP) will based on the requirements for farms that must comply with the full Produce Safety Rule.  Go to Market Access Programs for more information.

 

GAP third party audit programs:  Some retailers, distributors and restaurants will require that farms submit to a third party food safety audit if the farm wants to sell their fruits and vegetables to them.  The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and a number of private entities provide GAP audits for a fee. Go to Market Access Programs for more information.

 

 

Sign up here to be added to our Produce Safety mailing list- be informed about the Produce Safety Rule, produce safety issues, GAP audits and programs, and more.

 

Funding for this site was made possible, in part, by the Food and Drug Administration through grant PAR-16-137. The views expressed in written materials or publications do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does any mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organization imply endorsement by the United Stated Government.