What are Good Agricultural Practices
GAP is the acronym for Good Agricultural Practices. Such practices include
comprehensive approaches for examining the grower’s operation from field to
produce handling areas with the goal of identifying potential contamination
points. When properly utilized, GAPs can prevent on-farm contamination of fruits
Though many of the techniques may be common to the food service industry and
businesses therein, GAPs represent a new way of thinking about food safety on
the farm. Such techniques recognize that all possible measures must be taken to
prevent foodborne disease as fresh produce moves through production and
distribution systems. Every grower should take time to learn about potential
food safety hazards that can occur on the farm or orchard and the preventative
steps that may be taken to reduce contamination with harmful microbes.
Where the primary goal for GAPs utilization is the limitation of foodborne
illness and protection of public health, a secondary goal is the limitation of
liability for food distributors and farm businesses. Such techniques not only
protect the public from illness, but they also protect your farm business from
the economic consequences of food contamination.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of
Agriculture (USDA) issued GAP guidelines in the document "The Guide to
Minimizing Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Produce".
Although these guidelines are voluntary, many produce buyers including grocery
stores, restaurants, and distributors are now requiring proof of GAP compliance,
through third party inspections, as a condition of purchase.
How to Use This Tool?
The following survey tool has been designed to solicit answers to the most
common pieces of operational information required in Farm Food Safety Plan. The
completion of this plan is the first step towards achievement of GAP
Information entered through this program is password protected and may be
modified and/or added on an ongoing basis. To start a Farm Food Safety Plan:
- Create a user name and password for your plan
- Complete information requested in each of the (16) plan sections. (In some cases, questions will be multiple-choice for which an answer must be selected. In others, you may be required to list, describe or upload information for inclusion into the final report.)
- Upload content requested by the survey by selecting the Appendix tab
- Following completion of the survey sections, select generate report and save the .Word document to your computer. Additional formatting may be required. You may contact technical support for this purpose.
The resulting data will be formatted into a Farm Food Safety Plan template that
may then be saved online and printed as needed.
Each section contains helpful notes and model procedure that should be used as a
guide to your responses. Feel free to copy, paste and modify these model
procedures as needed when replying to a specific question. In addition, helpful
resources may be accessed through the resources link which provides best
practices, standards and guidelines for procedures that need to be addressed.
Additional guidance and resources may be viewed on the SC Gap Pan Builder
For technical assistance or guidance in completing this plan builder survey,
contact Blake Lanford or your local
Clemson Extension office.
What do I do when I’ve completed the
Once you’ve completed the development of a Farm Food Safety Plan for your farm,
contact your local Extension agent for input. Upon final completion, the plan
will be submitted to Jack Dantzler with SC Fruit and Vegetable Inspection
Service. A farm visit and audit procedure will be scheduled and you’ll be well
on your way to GAP Certification.