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Industry Produce Safety Initiatives

The practices outlined in FDA’s 1998 “Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables” and other industry documents are collectively known as Good Agricultural Practices or GAPs. The vast majority of the produce industry has accepted GAPs as part of normal production operations with many producers undertaking internal and external third-party GAP audits on a regular basis to monitor and verify compliance to GAPs. These audit results are often shared with customers as verification of the producer’s commitment to food safety and GAPs.  Commodity specific guidance documents have been written for specialty crops and are intended to supplement rather than replace established food safety program components.

In 2001, United's Production and Quality Assurance Council (the predecessor to the United Fresh Food Safety and Technology Council) developed its own member resource document - - Food Safety Auditing Guideline: Core Elements of Good Agricultural Practices for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables - to be used as a companion tool with FDA's overall guidance document. The publication includes a Food Safety Questionnaire for Fruits and Vegetables, which can be used by grower-shippers or produce buyers to quickly assess key questions related to production safety.  These documents are an excellent reference tool for minimizing microbial hazards through the use of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fresh fruit and vegetable processing operations have developed advanced food safety programs based on the 2008 Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards of Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables, on current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) 21 CFR Part 110, on the FDA Food Code and the principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP).

Lettuce
Field Cored Lettuce Best Practices (2001). This guidance document was developed in April 2001 by the National Food Processors Association, International Fresh-cut Produce Association, and United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association.

Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Lettuce & Leafy Greens Supply Chain (April 2006)  is a guidance document written by and specifically for, the lettuce and leafy greens field-to-fork supply chain. Crops typically considered as “lettuce and leafy greens” by FDA include iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, baby leaf lettuce (i.e., immature lettuce or leafy greens), escarole, endive, spring mix and spinach.

California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement (LGMA) (2007) operates with oversight from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). It is a mechanism for verifying through mandatory government audits, that farmers follow LGMA food safety practices for “leafy greens”. Fourteen leafy green products are covered by the Agreement: arugula, baby leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, cabbage, chard, endive, escarole, green leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, kale, red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach and spring mix.

Melons
Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Melon Supply Chain (November 2005) is a guidance document written by and specifically for, the melon farm-to-fork supply chain. This documents considers “melons” to include raw agricultural commodities and value-added fresh-cut products derived from cantaloupe (i.e. muskmelons), honeydew, watermelon, and variety melons (e.g. "Canary", "Crenshaw", "Galia", etc.).

Tomatoes
NOW AVAILABLE! You can now download a copy of the July 2008, 2nd Edition of the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain. 

Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain (May 2006) is a guidance document written by and specifically for, the tomato farm-to-fork supply chain. This document considers both greenhouse and field grown tomatoes.

Key Points of Control and Management of Microbial Food Safety: Information for Producers, Handlers, and Processors of Fresh Market Tomatoes (2004) University of California, Davis.

Prevention of Postharvest Water Infiltration into Fresh Market Tomatoes: Food Safety and Spoilage Control Practices University of California, Davis.

Mushrooms
Mushroom Good Agricultural Practice Program (2009) is a guidance document specifically for the mushroom industry from compost preparation to product shipping.

Citrus
An Introduction to Good Agricultural Practices for Citrus Growers (March 2007) outlines basic GAPs for the citrus industry.

Peppers
Good Agricultural Practices: What Growers Should Know (2005) New Mexico Chili Task Force

Spinach
Good Agricultural Practices for Production, Handling and Shipping of Fresh Market Spinach Texas A&M University Cooperative Extension

Strawberries
California Strawberry Commission Food Safety Program (2005) designed to aid soft fruit growers examine and improve safety practices, and meet the generally accepted GAP standards.

A Grower’s Guide to Preventing Food-borne Illness from Berry Crops Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs

Almonds
Food Quality and Safety Program for Almonds (2005) outlines GAPs and GMPs specifically for the almond industry.

Apples
Pennsylvania Tree Fruit Production Guide, Part VII Maintaining the Safety of Apples and Apple Products (2006) is a reference for growers and other fruit industry personnel.

Avocado
California Avocado Commission Food Safety Program (January 1999) guidelines intended to provide information based upon which various industry sectors, including growers, farm managers, handlers and processors, can assess present growing, harvesting, handling and other practices against practices intended to minimize or eliminate the potential for avocados to be implicated in a food-borne illness crisis.

General
FDA Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (October 1998)

FDA Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards of Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables (February 2008)

National GAPs Program at Cornell University 

American Society for Microbiology Preharvest Food Safety and Security (February 2005) 

University of California, Davis Good Agricultural Practices 

University of California, Davis Good Agricultural Practices " A Self Audit for Growers and Handlers

University of California, Davis Guidelines for Controlling L. monocytogenes in Small to Medium-Scale Packing and Fresh-Cut Operations (2000)

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service Food Safety Inspections: Basic Compliance Checklists for GMPs, GAPs, SSOPs, and HACCP (April 2002) 

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service: Pre-HAACP Programs for Food Processors: GMPs, SSOPs, and GAPs (April 2002)

Cornell University Good Agricultural Practices Program Food Safety Begins on the Farm: A Grower's Guide 

University of Florida IFAS Extension Food Safety on the Farm - An Overview of Good Agricultural Practices (November 2006) 

University of Florida IFAS Extension Good Worker Health and Hygiene Practices: Evaluation and Importance in GAPs and GMPs (September 2007)

Iowa State University Extension On-Farm Food Safety: Guide to Good Agricultural Practices (October 2004) 

Iowa State University Extension On-Farm Food Safety: Guide to Cleaning and Sanitizing (November 2004) 

Kansas State University Extension A Food Safety Risk Management Guide for the Producer (March 2001) 

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs Improving On-Farm Food Safety Through Good Irrigation Practices (August 2005)

University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension GAP Guidelines (February 2002)  

 


United Fresh Produce Association
1901 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: 202 303 3400
Fax: 202 303 3433
united@unitedfresh.org