The AMS Specialty Crops Inspection (SCI) Division offers voluntary independent audits of produce suppliers throughout the production and supply chain. Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) audits focus on the use of best agricultural practices to verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. USDA GAP & GHP audits verify adherence to the recommendations in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables and industry-recognized food safety practices.
Produce GAPs Harmonized Food Safety Standard Audit
USDA incorporated the two Produce GAPs Harmonized Food Safety Standards for specialty crops into its USDA Harmonized GAP audit program in 2011. The two standards used for Produce GAPs Harmonized Food Safety Standard Audits are the “Field Operations and Harvesting Harmonized Food Safety Standard” and the “Post-harvest Operations Harmonized Food Safety Standard.” The official versions of these standards are on the United Fresh Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative website at http://www.unitedfresh.org/food-safety/gap-harmonization-initiative.
Harmonized GAP Standards and Checklists
On February 16, 2021, USDA announced updates to the audit standards and checklists for the USDA Harmonized GAP and Harmonized GAP Plus+ audit programs.
Effective May 1, 2021, the new standards and checklists will be used for USDA Harmonized GAP and GAP Plus+ audits. Here is summary of the changes to the standards:
The new USDA Harmonized GAP standard and checklist were revised to reflect recent updates to the Produced Harmonized GAP standard, and to include Tomato Audit Protocol metrics.
- Harmonized GAP Standard (V. 2.0) (pdf)
- Harmonized GAP Checklist (V. 5.0) (xls)
- Harmonized GAP Checklist (V. 5.0) (pdf)
The new USDA Harmonized GAP Plus+ standard and checklist were updated to align with updates to the Global Food Safety Initiative’s (GFSI) technical equivalency benchmarking requirements for government entities. This program is acknowledged as equivalent to GFSI Technical Equivalence Requirements. This audit option includes requirements previously covered by the Harmonized Global Markets Addendum.
- Harmonized GAP Plus+ Standard (V. 3.0) (pdf)
- Harmonized GAP Plus+ Checklist (V. 3.0) (xls)
- Harmonized GAP Plus+ Checklist (V. 3.0) (pdf)
- USDA Notice to Trade - Updates Harmonized GAP Food Safety Audit Checklists
- USDA Press Release - USDA Announces $3.7 Million in Financial Assistance to Fruit and Vegetable Growers in 16 States
- Harmonized GAP Assistance Q&A
- Frequently Asked Questions on H-GAP and Produce Safety Rule Alignment (pdf)
- USDA Harmonized GAP Plus+ Audit Service Questions & Answers