What does GAP mean?
GAP means Good Agricultural Practices. These practices are part of a voluntary food safety program developed by FDA and USDA for fruit and vegetable growers. The goal is to help reduce foodborne illness. The GAP program describes key steps that growers can use to help reduce or minimize contamination of produce by disease-causing organisms. Food safety is everyone’s responsibility from the farmers to consumers.
What is the RI GAP program?
The voluntary Rhode Island GAP Grower Certification Program is a joint effort of the Division of Agriculture, RI Department of Environmental Management, the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension Food Safety Education Program, and RI growers. The program begins with training for growers and their workers on the application of GAP food safety principles to the growing, harvesting, processing and transporting of fresh fruits and vegetables. Once a grower feels that they have met the RI GAP guidelines, a staff person from the RI Division of Agriculture visits the farm for a review of GAP practices. This audit confirms that the grower has successfully applied required GAP practices during growing, harvesting, processing and transporting of fresh fruits and vegetables. After a successful audit, the grower will be certified as a RI GAP grower. The grower must be audited once every year in order to maintain the GAP Grower Certification.
What does this mean to a consumer?
The GAP certified grower has reviewed their on-farm food safety practices during growing harvesting, processing and transporting of fresh produce in relation to: • Application of manure • Irrigation water • Worker hygiene practices • Sanitation practices The GAP certified grower has taken the key steps necessary to help control contamination of produce by harmful microorganisms. These farmers are doing the best job they can to include preventive steps that help produce safe fruits and vegetables. However, food safety is still everyone’s responsibility. There is no way to guarantee that produce is always free from contamination.