Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) are the basic environmental and operational conditions necessary for the production of safe, wholesome fruits and vegetables. The purpose of GAPs is to give logical guidance in implementing best management practices that will help to reduce the risks of microbial contamination of fruits and vegetables. Examples of GAPs include worker hygiene and health, manure use and water quality throughout the production and harvesting process. While the United States has one of the safest food supplies in the world, recent media attention on foodborne illness outbreaks underscores the importance of good agricultural practices.
Growers, packers and shippers are urged to take a proactive role in minimizing food safety hazards potentially associated with fresh produce. Being aware of and addressing the common risk factors outlined in GAPs will result in a more effective, cohesive response to emerging concerns about the microbial safety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, operators should encourage the adoption of safe practices by their partners along the farm-to-family food chain. This includes distributors, exporters, importers, retailers, produce transporters, food service operators and consumers.