Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist; firstname.lastname@example.org
Produce growers in Delaware selling directly to supermarkets, food service companies, and some wholesale distributors are being required to have a third party Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP) audit by these buyers. This is to insure that good food safety practices are being used in growing, harvesting, packing, and shipping produce.
Most of these buyers are accepting the Harmonized GAP/GHP standards that the industry and the USDA have worked on together to standardize the audit process (a few buyers have other requirements).
Harmonized GAP and GHP standards can be found at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/GAPGHPAuditVerificationProgram
The audit process requires that a farm create a food safety plan and then implement that plan on the farm. The grower will then choose a private food safety auditing company, the USDA, or the state department of agriculture to perform the audit during the harvesting season. They will review the records documenting that the food safety plan is being carried out and then will inspect the growing areas and packing facilities. If the farm passes the audit, this will then satisfy the buyer’s requirements.
In Delaware, the Delaware Department of Agriculture can conduct a USDA audit using the harmonized standards.
For assistance with developing a produce food safety plan for your farm, contact Gordon Johnson, Extension Fruit and Vegetable Specialist with the University of Delaware email@example.com.