The Bridging the GAPs Farm Guide is intended to assist fruit and vegetable growers as they begin to implement and document good agricultural practices for on-farm food safety — and to help them prepare for a third-party audit or inspection of those practices. The information in this guide is based on the USDA Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP) Audit standards. This second edition of the guide is updated to include information about the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.
The guide begins with a chapter on Food Safety Basics to provide an understanding of the food safety concepts that form the foundation of good agricultural practices for fruit and vegetable farms. This overview should provide a framework for understanding the reasons behind the recommendations and requirements of the specific food safety standards. This section should equip farmers with the food safety principles they will use to think through food safety and recordkeeping approaches that respond to the particular circumstances on their own farms.
The Overview of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule chapter provides a brief history and summary of the federal regulation, including what businesses and products are covered, excluded, or qualify as exempt from the rule; required records; and compliance and enforcement infor-mation, with as much detail as is available at the time of publication.
The following chapter, Overview of the USDA GAP/GHP Audit, explains the different types of audits available, the basic structure and required components of a USDA GAP/GHP audit, and what to expect throughout the audit process.The remainder of the guide generally follows the flow and structure of the basic USDA GAP/GHP Audit Checklist: General Questions, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. The audit checklist provides a comprehensive look at the kinds of risks you should consider when creating a food safety plan tailored to your farm. The checklist will be the guiding document followed by an auditor when conducting a GAP/GHP audit.
Each chapter provides details and best practices for a different section of the audit. By following the guidance and using the resources collected in the Templates and Resources section at the end of this guide, you can create a working draft of a food safety plan. Consider drafting your policies, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and corrective actions plans as you make your way through the guide. Working through the guide in this way will get you started on a draft food safety plan that will be helpful, whether it is intended for a USDA GAP/GHP audit, FSMA Produce Safety Rule compliance, or simply to use as a best practices guide on your farm.
The Templates and Resources section is a collection of sample records templates and information resources on a variety of topics you may wish to delve deeper into. The FSMA Produce Safety Rule reference section provides the full text of the regulation so you can look up the exact legal language of the regulation. In the GAP/GHP Audit reference section, you will find the complete GAP/GHP Audit Checklist and related documents.