Since 2002, the USDA has offered the Good Agricultural Practices & Good Handling Practices (GAP&GHP) audit verification program. The voluntary program is offered to fruit and vegetable growers to verify an operation’s efforts to minimize the risk of contamination of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts by microbial pathogens.
The Department of Ag’s Business Development Specialist Danielle Trotta tells Colorado Ag Today there is good information about the audit program in the latest department’s Cultivation Station Podcast.
Trotta: “ A lot of people who might be getting started or who are looking to open up more market pathways to their products would need to get involved with these audits, third party audits through the USDA and other certifying bodies so that they can show consumers and their buyers that they have safe products by following these audits and having a food safety plan. “
The audit program does not guarantee the product is free from microbial contamination but verifies the participant has taken proactive measures to reduce the risk of contamination by adhering to generally recognized industry best practices. The responsibility for product safety and the continued observance of best practices rests with the operation producing and handling the fresh product.
Trotta says this spring the podcast discussion will focus on how Colorado ag producers can get started selling their products to government institutions like schools, hospitals, prisons and looking at new ideas that growers may not have thought about.