For fresh fruit and vegetable growers adapting to meet the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and third party GAP audits mandated by buyers, putting together a farm food safety plan is often a good starting point. A written farm food safety plan provides a way for growers of fresh fruits and vegetables to get organized and focused on produce safety on their farm operations. A written farm food safety plan is not specifically required by FSMA, but it is nonetheless a useful tool in complying with FSMA. A written farm food safety plan is usually required for third party GAP audits. A written farm food safety plan becomes a central place for growers to assess risks, outline practices to reduce those risks, record policies and standard operating procedures (SOPs), and keep needed records.
Every farm is unique and the risks on the farm will be specific to each operation. Developing a farm food safety plan should therefore be done by someone on the farm who knows the farm well, can assess risks, and identify practices to reduce risk that fit the farm.
Farm food safety plans can have many parts, but generally include the farm name, address, and description; the name and contact information for the farm food safety manager; a risk assessment of practices and conditions on the farm that can impact food safety; a description of practices that the farm undertakes to reduce risks; and records that document those practices. Other items that can be included are farm maps, policies and SOPs, training records, monitoring and risk assessment records, water test results, supplier and buyer information, input and equipment logs, cleaning logs, and self-audits.
Penn State Extension has developed the following set of templates, checklists and logs, patterned after the USDA Harmonized GAP audit, to assist farmers in writing their farm food safety plans:
- This template plan, following the USDA Harmonized GAP audit, can be filled in section by section to create your farm food safety plan.
- This sample plan, is only an example of what a farm food safety plan might look like. It is imperative that you write your own farm food safety plan to reflect your own farm operation and conditions.
- These checklists, logs and forms are templates that may also be useful as sections in your farm food safety plan: