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Good Agricultural Practices, Audit, and Certification

Schools and institutions do not necessarily require that farms have third party food safety certifications, though we are getting questions about food safety more frequently. Federally, it is not required that school food vendors have GAP certification. Some schools do require the certification, and many wholesalers and food distribution companies contracting with schools do require it.

Certification of GAPs is a voluntary, annual audit process that certifies that a farm shows commitment by management and staff to follow and maintain these practices.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is developing an easy-to-read guide that outlines the following four basic approaches to GAPs:

  1. CLEAN SOIL: Minimize human pathogens in the soil.
  2. CLEAN WATER: Monitor water quality. For example, water used for washing produce should be of drinkable quality.
  3. CLEAN HANDS: Use good personal hygiene in the field and in the packinghouse.
  4. CLEAN SURFACES: Wash and properly sanitize work surfaces, packing bins, transportation vehicles, etc.

At the bottom of the page are a handful of Good Agricultural Practices resources to learn about how they may relate to your farm operations. Check out the WSU Extenstion Food Safety and Good Agricultural Practices [external link] and the WSDA GAPs Audit Program websites to learn more about Good Agricultural Practices and GAPs certification. Please contact us with any questions you may have about food safety and institutional markets.


Last Updated: 1/16/2015