USDA Good Agricultural Practices
Each year an estimated 16 million Americans acquire food-borne illness from eating fresh produce according to the Center for Disease Control. Fecal contamination of produce items that do not received a heat or cook step prior to consumption is the most common culprit. Fecal bacteria like Salmonella, E coli and Listeria monocytogenes find their way to fresh produce via irrigation or wash water, application of improperly composted manure, droppings from domestic animals and wildlife, and poor hygiene of harvest crews. Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) are science-based recommendations to minimize contamination incidents. GAPs are "best practices" that minimize the presence of fecal microorganisms and prevent the spread harmful pathogens.
Whether you are a grower for a large retail food chain or distribute primarily at local farmers' markets, integrating GAP into your farm operation will ultimately reduce your legal liability and enhance the safety of your food products. A food-borne outbreak originating from your farm can financially devastate you and your family. Therefore, it is in your best interest to make sure you follow these GAP practices as much as possible.
The following fact sheet series introduce the topic and provide educational guidance to improve the safety of your food products.
- Institute of Food Science & Engineering
IFSE provides technical advances in food processing and packaging which foster safe, energy-efficient, environmentally responsible processing methods, assuring Arkansas and regional processors remain competitive - from the University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture.
- Good Agricultural Practices for Fresh Produce website - Institute of Food Science & Engineering
Information to assist fruit and vegetable growers in writing a food safety plan, developing a food safety program and ultimately passing a food safety audit from the University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture.
- Food Processing Assistance website - Institute of Food Science & Engineering
Resources for entrepreneurs and small food processing companies - starting a food business, marketing, food preservation, microbiology and food safety, product labeling and packaging, regulations - from the University of Arkansas System's Division of Agriculture.
- Food Safety County Extension Agent Training - Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium
On-farm decision trees which allow growers to assess their own unique operations, prioritize the implementation of practices that would most effectively reduce the microbial risks that have been identified, and develop a written farm food safety plan. (Durham, NC; 12/4/2013)