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) outlines science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fresh fruits and vegetables.
In Connecticut, the compliance activities related to the Rule are the jurisdiction of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg).
Tools for farmers: links in the right side menu
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
- Participate in Market Access Programs for certain buyers of fresh produce, such as the Connecticut GAP or CGAP program of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture or other third party audit programs
- Use tools for meeting Rule standards, implementing Good Agriculture Practices, writing food safety plans and developing traceback programs
The FDA is proposing a revision to Subpart E (Water rule requirements). If finalized, this would replace the pre-harvest microbial quality criteria and testing requirements in the Produce Safety Rule with requirements for systems-based pre-harvest agricultural water assessments. To read more about the proposed rule and/or comment click here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/12/06/2021-26127/standards-for-the-growing-harvesting-packing-and-holding-of-produce-for-human-consumption-relating.
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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.
New Produce Document Provides Clarity on Inspections and Audits: AFDO has released a new collaborative document, AFDO Produce Safety Rule Inspections and Voluntary USDA Audits: Guidance to Help Understand the Differences and Commonalities, to help explain the differences between mandatory requirements of the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) and the requirements within market driven buyer specific audits.
The embedded chart will help to explain differences and commonalities between PSR inspections and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) audits. In some cases, growers may need both an inspection to satisfy the regulatory requirement and an audit to meet a market driven buyer requirement. Growers may fall under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR) and be subject to regulatory inspections depending on commodities grown, covered activities performed, and the dollar amount of sales over a three-year average.
Some growers may also have a market driven buyer requirement for an audit. The term inspection and audit are commonly confused and this document may help to provide better clarity.
Tools for farmers
Agricultural water: Production
Agricultural water: Post-harvest
Worker training resources
Produce Safety Contacts
Indu Upadhyaya, DVM, MVSc, PhD
Cell: 860-786-8191 (preferred)
Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH
CT Dept. of Agriculture
Fruit & Veg Inspection Programs
Produce Safety Rule and Implementation
Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety
The Rule, implementation, coverage, exemptions, compliance.
Produce Safety Rule FDA guidance documents
Food safety standards addressed in the Rule
Implementation of the Rule in Connecticut
Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training
USDA and other third party GAP audit information
Connecticut Department of Agriculture CGAP program
Writing a food safety plan