Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) on the Farm
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== GUIDANCE FOR INDUSTRY GUIDE TO MINIMIZE MICROBIAL FOOD SAFETY HAZARDS FOR FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES ==
== Table of Contents Preface Introduction ==
Use of This Guide Basic Principles
A. Microbial Hazard B. Control of Potential Hazards 1.0 Agricultural Water 1.1 General considerations 1.2 Microbial testing of agricultural water 2.0 Processing Water 2.1 General Considerations 2.2 Antimicrobial Chemicals 2.3 Wash Water 2.4 Cooling Operations
III. Manure And Municipal Biosolids
A. Microbial Hazard B. Control of Potential Hazards 1.0 Municipal Biosolids 2.0 Good Agricultural Practices for Manure Management 2.1 Treatments to Reduce Pathogen Levels 2.1.1 Passive treatments. 2.1.2 Active treatments. 2.2 Handling and Application 2.2.1 Untreated Manure 2.2.2 Treated Manure 3.0 Animal Feces
IV. Worker Health and Hygiene
A. Microbial Hazards B. Control of Potential Hazards 1.0 Personal Health and Hygiene 2.0 Training 3.0 Customer-Pick Operations and Road-Side Produce Stands
V. Sanitary Facilities
A. Microbial Hazards B. Control of Potential Hazards 1.0 Toilet Facilities and Handwashing Stations 2.0 Sewage Disposal
VI. Field Sanitation
A. Microbial Hazards B. Control of Potential Hazards 1.0 General Harvest Considerations 2.0 Equipment Maintenance
VII. Packing Facility Sanitation
A. Microbial Hazard B. Control of Potential Hazards 1.0 General Packing Considerations 2.0 General Considerations for Facility Maintenance 3.0 Pest Control
A. Microbial Hazard B. Control of Potential Hazards 1.0 General Considerations 2.0 General Transport Considerations
Fresh fruits and vegetables are important to the health and well being of the American consumer. Consumers enjoy one of the safest supplies of fresh produce in the world. However, over the last several years, the detection of outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with both domestic and imported fresh fruits and vegetables has increased. In a January 1997 radio address, President Clinton announced a Food Safety Initiative to improve the safety of the nation's food supply (Ref. 1). In May of 1997, as part of the President's Food Safety Initiative, the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent to the President a report that identified produce as an area of concern (Ref. 2). On October 2, 1997, President Clinton announced a plan entitled "Initiative to Ensure the Safety of Imported and Domestic Fruits and Vegetables" (produce safety initiative) to provide further assurance that fruits and vegetables consumed by Americans, whether grown domestically or imported from other countries, meet the highest health and safety standards (Ref. 3). As part of this initiative, the President directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Secretary of Agriculture and in close cooperation with the agricultural community, to issue guidance on good agricultural practices (GAPs) and good manufacturing practices (GMPs) for fruits and vegetables (Ref. 3).
In response to this directive, the FDA and USDA are issuing "Guidance for Industry -- Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables." This guidance document ("the guide") addresses microbial food safety hazards and good agricultural and management practices common to the growing, harvesting, washing, sorting, packing, and transporting of most fruits and vegetables sold to consumers in an unprocessed or minimally processed (raw) form. This voluntary, science-based guidance can be used by both domestic and foreign fresh fruit and vegetable producers to help ensure the safety of their produce. The voluntary guidance is consistent with U.S. trade rights and obligations and will not impose unnecessary or unequal restrictions or barriers on either domestic or foreign producers.
The produce guide is guidance and it is not a regulation. As guidance and if applied as appropriate and feasible to individual fruit and vegetable production operations, the guide will help to minimize microbial food safety hazards for fresh produce. Because it is guidance, and not a regulation, the guide does not have the force and effect of law and thus is not subject to enforcement. Operators should use the general recommendations in this guide to tailor food safety practices appropriate to their particular operations. In no case do the recommendations in this guide supercede applicable Federal, state, or local laws or regulations for U.S. operators. Operators outside of the U.S. should follow corresponding or similar standards, laws or regulations.
The guide is one of the first steps under the President's produce safety initiative to improve the safety of fresh produce as it moves from the farm to the table. The guide focuses on the production and packing of fresh produce. However, the food safety initiative is not limited to the farm. It will focus on all stages of the farm-to-table food chain. For example, FDA's Food Code provides advice and information to state and local agencies about safe food handling practices in grocery stores, institutions, restaurants, and other retail establishments (Ref. 4). FDA is also actively seeking assistance from the Conference for Food Protection (a consortium of state, local and Federal agencies, academia, and consumer and industry representatives) in identifying practical interventions that may assist in reducing or eliminating microbial contamination of fresh produce at the retail level. In addition, as part of the President's food safety initiative, educational outreach programs, such as the recently initiated "Fight Bac" campaign, will promote improved safe food handling by consumers.
Identifying and supporting research priorities designed to help fill gaps in food safety knowledge is another focus of the food safety initiative.2 In the longterm, research and risk assessment on fresh produce will be incorporated in the multi-year food safety initiative research planning process. The overall goal of research is development of cost-effective intervention and prevention strategies to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness. Research will also support development of improved detection methods targeted to sources of contamination.
Growers, packers, and shippers are urged to take a proactive role in minimizing food safety hazards potentially associated with fresh produce. Being aware of, and addressing, the common risk factors outlined in this document will result in a more effective, cohesive response to emerging concerns about the microbial safety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, operators should encourage the adoption of safe practices by their partners along the farm-to- table food chain, including transporters of produce, such as distributors, exporters, importers, retailers, food service operators, and consumers, to ensure that each individual effort will be enhanced.