CORE STANDARD IV: CORE GOOD AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES (CGAP)

  1. Purpose: To define the core GAPs (and GHPs) that are the foundation for development of all agricultural programs. These CGAPs are non-refutable core elements from which all food safety standards are built.
  2. Note: These and modifications listed in Specific Farm Standards (SFS) make a best attempt at respecting cultural (religious based for example) and particular techniques of farming (such as organic or muck farming, for example).
  3. Facts:
    1. CGAPs are a collection of standards based on science, data collection, empirical information, and research.
    2. Individual mTRB GAP/GHPs require approval of the Senior MTRB and final approval of the Advisory Board prior to field implementation.
    3. The specific and implied intent of the CGAPs cannot be altered without the written approval of the OPMA Advisory Board.
  4. Core GAP/GHPs (check for modifications to these in specific farm standards):

    NOTE:  Items in bold on this numbered list are MAJOR Non-Compliance Issues
    1. Hand Washing Requirements
    2. Clothing and Personal Hygiene Guidelines
    3. Special Clothing Requirements
    4. Consumption of Food, Beverages and Break Areas
    5. Restroom Requirements
    6. Children (aged 8 and below) and Domestic (non-farming) Animals
    7. Farm Animals
    8. Visitors
    9. Contamination Requirements
    10. Irrigation and Water Guidelines
    11. Risk Analysis Process
    12. Trace-Back Process
    13. Sanitation
    14. Maintenance of Equipment and Implements
    15. Hand tools
    16. Facility Guidelines
    17. Pest Control
    18. Ponds, Reservoirs, Lakes or Bodies of Water used for Farm Irrigation
    19. Handling and Storage of “Restricted Materials”
    20. Harvest Guidelines
    21. Post-Harvest Requirements
    22. Seed Storage Guidelines
    23. Packing Materials Guidelines
    24. Livestock Guidelines
    25. Out-of-Production Ground Guidelines
    26. Distance and Space Requirements
    27. Training
    28. Reporting

GOOD AGRICULTURAL AND HANDLING PRACTICES

Hand Washing Requirements
  • Intent: Clean hands during farming activities contribute significantly toward reducing contamination.
    • Cleanliness of the hands is a principle factor in cross contamination events. 
  • Specific:
    • Hands shall be washed at the following events:
    • Prior to harvesting activities and harvest periods
    • Prior to handling product (seed to harvested product)
    • After handling tools, implements and other mechanical devices
    • After break and eating periods
    • After stool or restroom activities
    • After contact with animals or humans
    • After contact with contaminated items such as restricted materials, pest control activities, bodily activities
  • Specific hand washing procedures:
    • Rinse hands with fresh water
    • Rub soap onto hands
    • Rub hands together vigorously under acceptably hot water (preferred to cold water)
    • Rinse hands thoroughly
    • Dry hands
    • If possible but not required, the use of a hand sanitizer (this is not a substitute for hand washing)
Clothing and Personal Hygiene Practices Guidelines
  • Intent: Clean clothing and good personal hygiene practices contribute significantly toward reducing food borne contamination.
  • Specific: Clothing and miscellaneous activities:
  • Clothing worn for farming activities shall be clean and appropriate for the reduction of contamination
  • Use of tobacco shall be confined to non-farm activities
  • Spitting, disposing of paper tissues, open blowing of the nose and other similar activities shall be taken off farm
  • Diseases, colds, illnesses, cuts and other lesser health issues shall be confined to non-farming activities
  • Special Clothing Requirements:
  • Intent: The wearing of special clothing may reduce the risk of cross contamination during farming activities. These items are designed to prevent contamination to product and not to the individual wearing the item.
  • Specific:
    • Customers may require special clothing requirements.  These requirements shall not increase the risk of contamination. Customers should specify how the item is to be used.  If not, an Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) shall be written to cover the wearing of the item.
    • Certain commodities or farming activities may require special clothing requirements.  These requirements should be written in the form of an SOP to ensure consistency of the task.
  • Special clothing includes:
    • Smock
    • Latex gloves
    • Hair and beard net
    • Headgear and foot-gear
    • Arm guards
    • SOPs shall include instructions for:
    • Washing the item and or its proper disposal
    • Removal from the farm (to and from vehicles or home)
    • Proper wearing of the item
    • Number of times the item may be worn
    • When the item is to be replaced
    • Conditions for cross contamination
Consumption of Food, Beverages and Break Areas
  • Intent:
    • The containment of food and beverages to break areas or other designated areas (as simple as “out of field areas”) and the removal of waste from the consumption of these products eliminate a significant source of food for both domestic and wild animals on the farm.
    • The designation of break or other areas allows the containment of contamination.
    • Glass and brittle containers contained in break areas eliminate foreign object issues on the farm.
    • Break areas need to contain the basic items necessary for rest and revitalization.  These should include but are not limited to tables, chairs, shade, potable water, hand washing and restroom access, trash containers and tobacco receptacles.
    • Specific:
      • SOPs need to contain the following:
        • Designation of areas
        • Activities in these areas
        • Clean up of these areas
        • Materials to be stocked
        • Responsible parties
Restroom Requirements
  • Intent:  Proper restroom location, facilities and activities remove the potential for significant contamination from farm activities.
  • Specific:
    • Restrooms may be proper portable units, home facilities or other proper facilities within a reasonable walking distance from the work site.  
    • Restroom facilities must be stocked with sufficient materials for a day of activities; toilet paper, hand towels, soap, water.
    • Restroom facilities must be sufficient for the size of the work or attending population; roughly 1 unit to 25 persons.
Children (aged 8 and below) and Domestic (non-farming) Animals
  • Intent: 
    • Children and domestic non-farming animals pose potential contamination to farming activities.
  • Specific: 
    • Children aged 8 and below are restricted from farming activities
    • Domestic Animals (non-farming) are restricted from growing areas, harvest activities, harvested product, water sources and seed storage.
    • NOTE:  Children are dealt with differently in each seperate farming style.  Check the common standard for your type of farm.
Farm Animals
  • Intent: 
    • Farm animals if not properly handled, pose a significant contamination hazard to farming activities.
    • Wind drift, slope, proximity, and other contributing factors may impact on this issue.
  • Specific:
    • Farm animals must be specifically controlled to reduce the risk of contamination.
    • SOPs may be written to define this control.
    • NOTE: Farm animals are dealt with differently for the Small Family Farms style standard.  Please check for further information.
Visitors
  • Intent:  
    • Visitors can pose contamination issues.
    • Visitors need to be informed of particular GHPs that pertain to their visit.
    • Official visitors require special handling practices.
  • Specific:
    • Visitors need to be informed or escorted to ensure there are no contamination actions.
    • Official visitors need to be identified, state purpose of visit, documented, escorted and debriefed prior to departure.
Contamination Requirements
  • Intent: 
    • Special actions shall be taken to limit or remove contamination issues.
    • Contamination issues shall be identified and defined actions be taken to mitigate the issue.
    • A record shall be kept of these issues and the mitigation action taken.
  • Specific:
    • Rules may be written to limit, contain or remove the following contamination issues:
      • Wildlife incursion
      • Domestic animal incursion
      • Visitor issues (contractors etc)
      • Adjacent land contamination issues
      • Water contamination; potential or issue
      • Fluids or other similar issues
      • Manure
      • Other
    • A risk analysis shall be conducted at the following times and events:
      • Water contamination issues
      • Adjacent land issues
      • Manure
      • Livestock and drift
Irrigation and Water Guidelines
  • Intent:
    • Strict adherence to Core Standard I, Water is required.
    • Water is a resource that shall be safeguarded to the seed or plant.
    • When water quality is in doubt, proper testing measures shall prevail.
  • Specific:
    • Above ground irrigation pipes require annual cleaning or cleaning after the following conditions:
      • Contaminated water
      • Fertigation
      • Pestigation
      • Break in the line between the source and the field
    • Reservoirs, ponds, aqueducts, springs, streams and rivers, all sources that are unregulated, require a sanitation survey prior to irrigation of farm use.
    • Irrigation pipe shall not be stored on the ground without elevating the pipe off the ground sufficient to limit pest activity.
    • Irrigation pipe shall not be laid in standing water, ponds or areas or in a manner that will contaminate the transported water.
    • Irrigation pipe allowed to stand over wintering periods or in storage for periods of time exceeding 30 shall be flushed prior to application.
Risk Analysis
  • Intent: A risk analysis shall be taken any time there appears to be a risk of contamination to seed, harvest, food, packing materials or any element of farming activities. Elements of this analysis should be documented in field records.
  • Specific:
    • A risk analysis should contain the following elements:
      • Hazard Identification: Chemical, Physical, Biological
      • Facts bearing on the situation
      • Discussion of the potential and severity of the situation
      • Recommended course of action to prevent contamination
Trace-Back Process
  • Intent:  To document the source of materials (seed, compost, inputs and agrochemicals used in growing) through to the field and the commodity, all harvested products that are produced on the farm. 
  • Specific:
    • This is a documented process
    • Records shall be maintained to validate the process
    • The process shall be tested once per season
Sanitation
  • Intent:
    • That clean equipment be used in the growing and harvesting of product
    • That clean items will be used in the transportation of product
  • Specific:
    • Equipment used in activities other than farming be cleaned prior to use in farming activities
    • That areas used for cleaning be separate and distinct from farming areas.  That these areas are not on ground higher than the areas used for farming in the event of runoff. 
    • That equipment will be rinsed clean to the naked eye after the application of a cleaning chemical
Maintenance of Equipment and Implements
  • Intent: To maintain equipment and implements so that contamination or cross contamination of the field, inputs or harvest does not occur.
  • Specific:
    • Equipment and implements require routine inspection to ensure the item is operating as designed and does not contaminate the harvest or the field.
    • Equipment and implements require scheduled maintenance to ensure the item is operating at peak efficiency.
Hand Tools
  • Intent: To ensure hand tools are not contributing to contamination to the work product.
  • Specific:
    • Hand tools shall be constructed from durable materials that will not cross-contaminate in service.
    • Hand tools shall be maintained in good repair.
    • Hand tools shall be cleaned and sanitized on a basis that does not allow for the contamination of the work product.      
Facility Guidelines and Certification
  • Intent: Facilities shall be constructed and maintained so to protect and allow for the proper conduct of food handling activities.
  • Specific:
    • A risk analysis shall be undertaken so that the construction of facilities do not contaminate within the intended purpose of the building.
    • Given the purpose of the building, the construction and materials shall be of a type and grade commensurate with intended purpose of the building.
    • Appropriate codes will be followed in the construction and conduct of activities within and of the building.
  • Certification of Buildings:
    • Buildings used for the storage of food or food related items or for the auction of food or food related items will be inspected annually against the appropriate CGAPs.  A Satisfactory or Not Satisfactory rating shall be awarded.  An appropriate certificate shall accompany the award.  In no way shall this certificate be construed to indicate any level of food safety.
    • Farm buildings do not need individual approval.
Pest Control
  • Intent: The farm and those facilities that have bearing on the farm shall have proper controls in place to limit or remove pests that may contaminate the harvest.
  • Specific:
    • Using good Integrated Pest Management techniques develop and maintain a diligent pest control program.
    • Farms using pesticides shall have a certified Pest Control Applicator license individual for all storage, handling and application of pesticides.
Ponds, Reservoirs, Lakes or Bodies of Water used for Farm Irrigation
  • Intent: Farm production requires a clean source of water to produce products for human consumption.
  • Specific:
    • Bodies of water with no active inflow of water:
      • These reservoirs shall be tested pre-season (preferred) or annually against the standards found in Core Standard I, Water.
      • These reservoirs shall be tested after a contamination event. A contamination event is a severe storm, flooding, livestock watering, pesticide dumping or similar occurrence.
    • Bodies of water that have an unknown source or an uncontrolled source of water shall be tested as noted above but also pre-season and each month thereafter and at end of season so to conform to Core Standard I, Water.
Handling and Storage of “Restricted Materials”
  • Intent: The handling and storage of restricted materials shall be performed in such a manner as to ensure safe practices are maintained.
  • Specific:
    • The handling and storage of restricted materials shall be in accordance with label and local law, code and rules.
    • Restricted materials shall be maintained in only labeled containers and stored in restricted areas.
    • Training for the handling and application of restricted materials shall be conducted on an appropriate routine frequency.
Harvest Guidelines
  • Intent: To ensure the harvest product is harvested in a manner that does not contribute contamination to the product.
  • Specific:
    • This guide should address:
      • Tools and cleanliness
      • Hygiene
      • Totes
      • Transportation
      • Lot numbering
Post-Harvest Requirements
  • Intent: 
    • Post harvest requirements are not addressed in this marketing agreement.  However, it is the intent of this marketing agreement that all product is handled in such a fashion from seed to table that these actions do not contaminate the product any more than through the normal course of farming.
    • No post harvesting guidelines for food safety will be directed by this marketing agreement.
    • Marketing Activities guidance follows.
  • Specific:
    1. Cleaning, trimming or removing of excess product of or from fruits and vegetables for the specific purpose of marketing of the produce is allowed under this agreement in Tier One.  This action is not considered rinsing or washing of the product for any purpose other than to present the produce in the best possible manner to the public for purposes of marketing.  The trimming or removing of excess product (such as leaves, stems, bad product from a vine, for example) is also considered a marketing step to present the product in the best possible manner to the public for the purpose of marketing or selling.  In no way are these actions to be considered mandatory or required but to be taken at the discretion of the farmer in their efforts to market their product.  So long as these actions are taken only to market the product, the member does not invalidate their status with the marketing agreement contract.
    2. Marketing the product by slicing, dicing or presenting it for tasting (sampling) does not invalidate the marketing agreement contact.  Sellers who perform these actions are expected and shall demonstrate sound food safety practices for the washing of the product, equipment, surface, hands and other direct contact items.  They shall clearly inform the potential customer that this is for tasting only, not for consumption or the fulfilling of a nutritional requirement.  No more than one half (½) ounce of marketed product will be provided for tasting.  Sellers in Tier One shall make clear to the buyer, customer, or consumer that the product is not ready-to-eat without further cleaning or processing. A sample is not a ready-to-eat meal or even a snack. A sample is a small portion of the product that allows the customer to taste the product to encourage them to purchase the product. Sampling increases sales but is not encouraged by the marketing agreement.
    3. This provision is not approved for secondary sellers of the produce. Any action to slice, dice or for the intent of the agreement cut open by use of a cutting type implement for commercial consumption is outside the terms of the marketing agreement contract. 
    4. Cleaning performed in a dry manner using a towel; brush or air tool or other similar implement is allowed and not considered a sanitizing step under this agreement
    5. Cleaning performed using fresh water (municipal or well with no added sanitizer) from a source approved under this agreement is considered appropriate and not considered a sanitizing step under this agreement.
    6. Cleaning using secondary sanitized water (city water or other commercial water systems is the first step, adding a sanitizer by a private party is a second step) is not approved under this agreement and will be considered a processing step for the purposes of public health rules and requirements and invalidates the marketing agreement contract voiding certification.
  • Intent: Seed is considered the beginning of the food chain and shall be so handled.
  • Specific:
    • Seed shall be grown, harvested and stored with the intent that it is a consumable product.
    • All GAP/GHPs in this marketing agreement apply to the farming and growing of seed.
    • Seed shall be labeled and stored properly much the same as a consumable product.
Packing Materials Guidelines
  • Intent:  Packing materials such as cartons, liners, film and clamshells shall be stored so to prevent physical, chemical and biological contamination.
  • Specific:
    • Packing materials where possible should be stored in a facility.
    • Packing materials shall be kept in their shipping containers until staged for packing.
    • Packing materials shall not touch the ground or floor at any time.
Livestock Guidelines
  • Intent: Livestock and livestock husbandry activities shall not present a risk to or contaminate the field or harvest.
  • Specific:
    • Livestock guidelines shall cover auctions activities
    • Livestock shall be quartered or parked at auction activities a distance of 50 feet from the base of food auction activities. The care of livestock shall in no way pose a potential threat to auction activities.
    • Horses actively involved in the auction function are exempt from the 50 foot rule.
Out-of-Production Ground Guidelines
  • Intent: That out-of-production ground be cared for in the same manner as production ground and all of the marketing agreement guidelines apply.
  • Specific: That ground not in production for a period of 3 years is exempt from this rule.
Distance and Space Requirements
  • Intent: That a risk analysis be conducted to determine the distance and space requirements between farm and potential contamination activities such as animal pens, feed lots, composting and industrial activities be conducted.  That such items as drift and run-off be considered in this risk analysis.
  • Specific:
    • That a minimum of 25 feet exists in the absence of any guidelines.
    • That animal pens, feed lots, composting activities always be considered for run-off and drift.
    • That other farm activities such as buildings, storage areas, bone yards and mechanical activities be considered for a risk analysis.
Training
  • Intent:
    • That training at the farm level shall be conducted at least once annually for all personnel engaged in farm activities.
    • That at least one person per 25 employees, including the principle be trained and pass the off-site education requirements required of this marketing agreement.
  • Specific:
    • Persons new to farm activities should be trained within 1 week of joining the farm.
    • That this training should be documented.
Reporting
  • Intent: That there are activities which require documentation to demonstrate the actions of the activity.
  • Specific:
    • Record keeping is stored for a period of at least three years.
    • Record keeping shall be complete with date, name of person recording the information, location, time, and lot numbers, names or other critical data so to easily identify the activity being recorded.
    • Minimum records to be maintained:
      • Any Farm Risk Assessments
      • Contamination Assessments
      • Lot Number Traceability
      • Water and Laboratory Tests
      • Farm Map with water-flow information
      • Other records as necessary
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