Good Agricultural Practices
The fresh produce industry faces many food safety challenges as the number of outbreaks associated with consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables has increased in recent years. Prevention of microbiological and chemical contamination is a key factor in the delivery of safe fruits and vegetables to consumers, since there is no kill step or remedial treatments that effectively remove contamination once it has occurred. Domestic and international industries share common concerns during production, post-harvest handling, and distribution of fresh produce. An integrated approach is required for training workers, who must understand their role in reducing food-borne illness.
The JIFSAN Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Program is based on the Train-the-Trainer concept. It focuses on providing exporting countries with an adaptable framework of practices. Trainees then teach growers and handlers the concepts and best practices currently available to reduce microbial food safety risks. The use of these practices, when widely disseminated and implemented, improves the safety of fresh produce being exported to the US as well as that consumed in the host country.
What is meant by GAP?
GAP includes the basic environmental, human health, and sanitary operational practices that are necessary for the production of safe, wholesome fruits and vegetables. While controlling every source of microbial contamination during production and handling is impossible, there are many strategies that can be implemented to reduce the risk. The Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, published by FDA in 1998, is the foundation of GAP. It covers agricultural and post-harvest water uses, manure and bio-solids, worker health and hygiene, field and facility sanitation, transportation, and traceback.
The Food Safety Modernization Act has brought new regulations to the produce industry. Those regulations are detailed in the The Produce Rule, the Preventive Controls Rule and the Foreign Supplier Verification Act. JIFSAN collaborates with the respective Alliances to update its programs in a timely manner so that the latest information always is made available to its training program audiences.