Why should growers care about GAP?
Consumers are demanding to know more about food safety practices than ever before. Foodborne related illness are increasingly linked to a major increase in public awareness, and many growers and handlers are now being required to demonstrate a commitment to food safety through third party audits, known as a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. By incorporating GAP into farm businesses, growers can yield food in a safer way while working to expand their business and access new markets.
GAP is also one of the fundamental components of the NYS Grown and Certified Program. NYS Grown and Certified promotes and markets the New York State producers that are meeting the new consumer demand for high quality food. Learn more about NYS Certified here.
The Food Safety Modernization Act, enacted in 2011, charged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with developing regulations to establish safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding standards for farms that fall under the Produce Safety Rule. The Produce Safety Rule encompasses farms that grow produce meant to be consumed without additional processing, like many fresh fruits and vegetables.
The USDA GAP audit is based on the FDA’s Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. Although the USDA audit is part of a voluntary audit program, meaning that it does not have a regulatory function, it may help farms prepare for potential regulation from the Food Safety Modernization Act.