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Food safety risks may be reduced on the farm by fol­low­ing good agri­cul­tural prac­tices (GAPs).

GAPs help grow­ers under­stand the prac­tices and risks asso­ci­ated with their farm. They help iden­tify prac­ti­cal ways to reduce the risk of con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing pro­duce being grown, har­vested and packed.

There is no such thing as zero-​risk, but prac­tices and steps need to be in place on farms to min­i­mize any poten­tial risk of con­t­a­m­i­na­tion. Although the com­mon prin­ci­ples of GAPs don’t change from farm to farm, each GAP is unique, as every grower does things dif­fer­ently.

GAPs focus on assess­ing the risk in five key areas:
Water
Manure/​Compost and Soil Amend­ments
Land Use (Previous/​Adjacent) and Ani­mal Access (Domestic/​Wildlife)
Equip­ment, Tools & Build­ings
Employee Health & Hygiene

Assess­ing the risks and imple­ment­ing steps to reduce the chance of con­t­a­m­i­na­tion in each of the above five areas and ensur­ing proper trace­abil­ity is what makes GAPs suc­cess­ful on any farm.

There are var­i­ous types of GAPs plans includ­ing self-​attested, self-​certified, sec­ond party ver­i­fied and third party audited.

Grow­ers choose the type of plan that works best for them and sat­is­fies the demands of the mar­ket they are sup­ply.

More and more pro­duce buy­ers are ask­ing for the most strin­gent food safety stan­dards. They may ask for third party audits on high risk items (leafy greens, green onions, etc.) ver­sus every prod­uct or a cer­tain com­mod­ity.

What are the gap types?

Self-​Attest – A grower under­stands GAPs and fol­lows the prin­ci­ples on their farm. Basic record keep­ing is a good idea to prove GAP prac­tices, but they are not required.

Self-​Certify – A grower will have a GAP plan for their farm and a check­list of items they must ensure are included in the plan and in prac­tice in their oper­a­tion.

Sec­ond Party Ver­i­fi­ca­tion – This is unusual but there are cases where a grower will develop a plan and usu­ally a buyer will come out and take a walk through of the field and review var­i­ous records to ensure the grower is doing what they pro­claim to be doing on the farm.

Third Party Audited –A grower has a com­pletely doc­u­mented plan that a cer­ti­fy­ing agency ver­i­fies by a site visit. The agency is paid for the audit ser­vices, includ­ing record and doc­u­men­ta­tion review.


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