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 tools for 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.
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