A Grower Self Assessment of Food Safety Risks
The purpose of implementing Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) is to reduce the risks of microbial contamination of fruits and vegetables. This means keeping bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause human illness off produce. Most fruits and vegetables are grown outside in the soil, among many other organisms, including animals, insects and microbes. Any of these organisms could introduce contamination. Controlling every source of microbial contamination on the farm is impossible, but there are many things that can be done to reduce the risks. The most logical approach is to first THINK about your operation and CONSIDER what practices may be microbiologically risky. Next, DEVELOP practices that are affordable and effective at reducing the microbial risks. Lastly, IMPLEMENT these innovative solutions. In many instances you may already be using GAPs, and they may be part of your best management practices (BMPs) or standard operating procedures (SOPs).
This farm assessment is designed to assist you with the process of identifying risks, developing appropriate solutions, and implementing good agricultural practices that reduce risks. As stated in the Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables produced by the FDA “Current technologies cannot eliminate all potential food safety hazards associated with fresh produce that will be eaten raw.” The focus of GAPs is to prevent contamination through affordable and often novel means.