by Keisha Rainey, CFSA Local Produce Safety Coordinator | Friday, Jul. 1, 2022 —
Three-sink wash station in an open-air structure on a farmWash station at Lomax Farm, CFSA’s research and education farm in Concord, North Carolina. Credit: CFSA.

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification for produce farmers is a lengthy process, but it can be a rewarding experience. The standards are ever-evolving to ensure consumers are getting the healthiest product. This article will take a brief look into knowing if your cleaning agents for food, contact surfaces, and produce washing is safe.


The Label ls The Law

You and your team have just completed a fresh fruit and vegetable harvest. Now it’s time to wash and prepare your produce for consumers. You fill up your wash sink with water and grab the Clorox.

But wait, have you read your label?

Clorox is a product that has been used in households for years. Most of its intended purposes are wiping down countertops, cleaning restrooms, and, usually, it is the main product for sanitizing. What may be misunderstood is that it can’t be used for everything.

What may be misunderstood is that (Clorox) can’t be used for everything.

When using ANY product for surfaces and washes, we must do our part for audit purposes and consumers. The goal is never to make anyone sick, so “the label is the law.” Use products according to the specifications set forth. This also pertains to following the proper application of the product. Using a product incorrectly can result in bigger, costly issues.


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Number Lookup

Ingredients in products can often change without us realizing it, and our uses for them will change too.

EPA numbers are numbers assigned to chemical products that give us information about how it is put together, ingredient details, along with how to use them correctly. If you are currently using any chemical product on your farm that comes in contact with food or surfaces, you will want to check the EPA number to ensure you are still compliant. Proper use of chemicals is an area that your auditor will check and is necessary to pass a GAP audit.

Clorox label with use and the EPA number highlighted

Grab your cleaning agent and find the EPA on the back. Enter that number on the registration website will give you complete documentation about the EPA number.

Here’s a complete step-by-step guide on how to do this.


Organic Growers

In addition to the EPA lookup, the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) site is a helpful reference for certified organic farmers or uncertified growers using organic practices.

OMRI labelFor example, peroxyacetic acids’ mode of microbe-killing action is through oxidation. Peroxyacetic acid leaves no residue and readily breaks down into water, oxygen, and acetic acid. It is becoming a more common sanitizer choice among organic growers, requiring no rinsing.

OMRI’s site keeps growers up to date on the current organic products and materials allowed for use. 


SaniDate 5.0

SaniDate 5.0 is another stand-alone sanitizer and disinfectant ideal for controlling plant and human health pathogens on various hard, non-porous surfaces such as floors, tables, benches, tools, equipment, restrooms, and more. 


How Often Should You Check Your Labels?

Check your labels at the beginning of the season or if a new product is introduced.

Check your labels at the beginning of the season or if a new product is introduced. Keeping records of chemicals is an audit standard and good practice for growers.


Help CFSA with our Small-Scale Sanitizer Sourcing Project

Want to help CFSA’s food safety team build a grower’s resource guide of approved products? 

Next time you’re at any type of store, take a photo of the sanitizers you see and upload the information into this form.


Happy growing!


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