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Extension Food Safety

Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)

Some produce buyers may tell farmers that they need to be "GAP certified" which means they need to undergo a third-party audit, such as USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). Growers may also be told they need to use Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), which means just using general good on-farm produce safety practices. GAP certification is also different than the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety rule. Here is a comparison of GAPs certification and FSMA to help clarify these differences and their similarities.

 

 Good Agricultural Practices (GAPS) certificationFood Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety rule
Year started?19982015
Required by?Some buyersFederal governmental regulations
What does it cover?Basic on-farm produce safety: water, soil amendments, animals, personnel, equipment, worker training, record keeping; expected to eventually be revised for consistency with FSMA requirementsSame foundational principles and content areas as GAPs, though specifics differ. In particular, at time of publication, the approach to water quality differed substantially and some requirements related to manure application were deferred to a future date.
Administered by?USDA or 3rd partyFDA- will likely work with state departments of ag and/or health
Can I get an exemption?Only required if your buyer requires itThere are some exemptions, which can be revoked if linked to food borne disease outbreak
Training requirements?"One formal food safety workshop" is required, although there is no specific workshop requiredIf covered, need to attend standardized FSMA Produce Safety Rule training
Documented on-farm food safety plan required?Yes- more information on writing an on-farm food safety plan is available hereNo, though components of a food safety plan would aid meeting some requirements
Audit/inspection frequency?Audited every year that you are certifiedFarm may be inspected by governmental regulator; frequency currently unknown
What happens if you fail audit/inspection?You can make corrections and get audited againUnknown at this time