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67 Merchants Row
Rutland, VT, 05701
United States

(802) 417-1528

Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) promotes local food knowledge, production and market opportunities for farmers and community members throughout our region.

What's Growin' On

An online community of farmers in the Rutland region hosted by the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link

GAPs and Produce Safety Updates

Steve Peters

Grower Updates: MAY 2014

  1. Important Information For Farms Getting GAPs Audited
  2. Worker Training Resources
  3. Recall Plan Information for Whole Foods and Other Buyers


Audit Forms: Growers will have to submit a new agreement form to the VAAFM this year if you are planning on getting a USDA GAPs audit, even if you submitted one in previous years.

The GAPs Audit Agreement Forms are now posted on our website with information on how to fill them out (scroll down to: Contact Steve Parise)


Suggestions from Steve Parise, USDA GAPs Auditor:  Make sure you review and update your GAPs plan well before the audit date! Are the dates accurate? Employees trained and signed training sheets? Growers need to pay particular attention to any manure used (where from, when applied, to what fields, how much, etc.), compost used (where from, if made on the farm, have records; when, where applied), and irrigation water and delivery systems.  Even if you are not using an irrigation system (i.e. if it is a wet year) if you have an irrigation system, you must have the appropriate water tests for it whether you used it or not.  Water for any other use (spray, frost protection) should be tested and have  documentation.


The Cornell GAPs Worker training video for farms that are getting GAPs certified  is now available on the internet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fQTk14VE_o

Penn State Extension Farm Safety Program has also created these flip charts as aids for training workers in the basics of hygiene and sanitation to reduce the risk of microbial contamination – may be especially useful for apple orchards


A few buyers, such as Whole Foods, are requiring more information from growers in terms of produce safety plans.  I have added some resources to the Center’s Produce Safety webpages that may be able to help you address some of these questions.  They can be found at:http://www.uvm.edu/sustainableagriculture/?Page=whatwedo/producesafety/gapresources.html

under “Information on Traceability, Recalls and Liability” They include:

How to write a recall plan: this manual includes info on how to write a recall plan and conduct a recall: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fs108

Requests for recalls can come from a customer or a member of the public with a concern, or a Federal agency such as the FDA or USDA FSIS (Food safety and inspection)- there is detailed information on how to respond to both types of incidences in the recall document above.

In the case of a question about product do NOT destroy the product - without first:

  • Submitting a written plan to the FDA or appropriate regulatory agency about what to do with the product, and getting their approval
  • Offering to have a state or federal agency representative witness whatever action you take for disposition
  • In the meantime, you will need to physically segregate all of the recalled product (so that it does not get sol again or eaten), mark it as: "Do Not USe/Do Not Discard" and inform staff to not use it until any investigation that you or a regulatory agency is conducting is completed.
  • How you dispose of the product will depend on the class of event. There are 3 recall classes:

o    Class I: reasonable probability that product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death (ex: Listeria or Salmonella)

o    Class II: use of or exposure to product may cause temporary or medically reversible health consequences or probablility of serious adverse health consequences is remote (ex: undeclared wheat, hard objects, Shigella)

o    Class III: exposure to a produce it not likely to cause adverse health consequences (ex: mold, yeast, off odor or taste, inaccurate labeling)


Testing labs: Under the Traceability and Recall Section, there is a list of food, water and environmental testing labs. The list is being provided as a resource and is not in any way an endorsement of any of these companies by UVM Extension.  The list was made in spring 2014 so you will want to make sure your contacts are updated annually for your recall plan. http://www.uvm.edu/sustainableagriculture/?Page=whatwedo/producesafety/gapresources.html

Media Plan: You should have a media response plan so that you will not be caught off-guard in the event of a contamination or recall event. NC MarketReady media plan tutorial: http://tinyurl.com/kxc8zqe

Other Contact Information to Include in Your Recall Plan in the case of an Event:

  • Lawyer – your own
  • Insurance agent(s)-your own
  • Anyone else on your recall team
  • Contact information for all of your produce buyers
  • To notify if there is a concern about possible contamination:

Vermont Department of Health

Food and Lodging Program