Good Agricultural Practices

hands holding apples

The voluntary Rhode Island Grower Certification Program (GAP ) is a joint effort of the DEM Division of Agriculture and Forest Environment, the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension Food Safety Education Program, and Rhode Island 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 DEM Division of Agriculture visits the farm for a review of GAP practices. This audit confirms that the grower has successfully applied the required GAP practices during the growing, harvesting, processing, and transporting of fresh fruits and vegetables. After a successful audit, the grower will be certified as an RI GAP grower. The grower must be audited once every year in order to maintain the GAP Grower Certification.

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 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, and 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.