Now more than ever wholesale produce buyers and commercial food stores are interested in food safety for their customers. Although GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) and GHP (Good Handling Practices) are voluntary programs (not governmental regulations), produce buyers may require growers and packers to follow GAP and GHP programs. Therefore, it is recommended that all producers of fresh fruits and vegetables be familiar with GAP/GHP principles.
Wisconsin’s larger-scale commercial fruit and vegetable growers are encouraged to develop a comprehensive GAP/GHP plan. But with the heightened concern for consumer safety, commercial produce buyers are often requesting producers go beyond GAP/GHP plans, and submit to annual, third-party audits. Given the fact that growers and packers will face increasingly stringent food safety standards, it is important to prepare for these requirements now to protect not only consumers, but to ensure economic sustainability.
There are several options when it comes to choosing a third-party auditor. Commonly the commercial buyer will request the audits be conducted by a specific third party auditor. The following links will give you more information on companies that perform third-party audits.
The Produce Safety Alliance can provide you with food safety information and links to education material. The overarching objective of this project is to provide the produce industry and associated groups (e.g., regulators, auditors, consumers, etc.) with training and educational opportunities related to current best practices and guidance, and future regulatory requirements.