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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 receive questions about food safety more frequently than in the past. 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.

WSDA Bridging the GAPs Farm Guide

WSDA has been working on a project called Bridging the GAPs since 2011 to identify and share best practices relating to on-farm food safety for growers operating small, mid-sized and diversified fruit and vegetable farms in Washington State. This GAPs Farm Guide is a culmination of the workshops WSDA's Food Safety Division's Small Farms and Direct Marketing Education and Outreach team held in partnership with WSDA’s Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)/Good Handling Practices (GHP) auditor team in the WSDA Fruit and Vegetable Inspection Program. Click on the image below for FREE download of the GAPs guide offered both in English and Spanish.

WSDA Bridging the GAPs Farm Guide - English - coverBridging the GAPs Farm Guide [PDF 18.6MB]

WSDA Acercando Las Buenas Practias Agricolas la GuiaAcercando Las Buenas Practiás Agricolas la Guia [PDF 14.1MB]

The video below describes our Bridging the GAPs on-farm workshop project.

Also listed down below are 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: 2/19/2019