How and Why to Conduct a Mock Recall in Preparation for a GAP Audit

by Patricia Tripp, CFSA’s Local Produce Safety Manager


Mock Recall

Growers that do everything right may still find themselves in a recall situation. Be ready with a Mock Recall.

The process of conducting a mock recall in preparation for a GAP audit is one of the of the requirements for GAP certification, but many growers feel that performing a mock recall may be misunderstood by buyers. The fear is that buyers will mistake a mock recall for a true recall. Fortunately, this is an industry standard and the majority of wholesale buyers are accustomed to assisting growers with this exercise.

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Reduce Post Harvest Losses by Implementing a Food Safety Program

by Patricia Tripp, CFSA’s Local Produce Safety Manager


Dylan Alexander of Alexander Acres, one of the Farmers in Training at Lomax Incubator Farm, washes greens post-harvest.

Dylan Alexander of Alexander Acres, one of the Farmers in Training at Lomax Incubator Farm, washes produce post-harvest.


Growers can produce large quantities of fruits and vegetables all day long, but without the proper systems in place you could miss out on the critical window of time when your produce is fresh and high-quality enough for market. Miss the window and product losses could be extensive. Taking every measure to improve product quality through the implementation of a food safety program will help to open up new market opportunities, reduce losses and improve the overall viability of your business.

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New Appalachia Foods Becomes NC’s First GroupGAP Certified Food Hub

By Patricia Tripp, CFSA Local Produce Safety Initiative Consultant

Caleb Crowell and Patricia Tripp conducting a final review of food safety documents in preparation for the USDA Group GAP audit.

Caleb Crowell and Patricia Tripp conducting a final review of food safety documents in preparation for the USDA Group GAP audit.

In partnership with the Wallace Center, CFSA participated in a three-year, national pilot project to assist in the development of the USDA GroupGAP certification, released on April 4, 2016. New Appalachia Foods, LLC (NAF), located in Fleetwood, NC participated in a USDA Pilot Project, and was the first entity within NC to become USDA GroupGAP certified.

What is USDA GroupGAP?

USDA GroupGAP is a farm food safety audit program that allows a group of producers to attain a single GAP certification. In order to participate in the program, a group must:

  • Operate under a shared Quality Management System (QMS) that incorporates the requirements of a food safety standard,
  • Agree to be audited by USDA as one body,
  • Perform internal audits of the member farms to ensure compliance with the chosen food safety standard (Standard USDA GAP/GHP or Harmonized GAP)
  • Undergo annual USDA unannounced audits on a percentage of farms within the group.



General Comparison of the Traditional GAP Approach and GroupGAP (Farm Level)




Manages Food Safety Program Individual Grower The Group as a whole assigning one accountable individual to internally verify food safety compliance and assist with administrative duties
Audit Frequency 1 External Audit; 1 potential unannounced audit (both annually) 1 Internal Audit; 1 External Audit; Mandatory Unannounced Internal Audit; Mandatory Unannounced External Audit (both annually)
Training Requirements One GAP workshop (recommended annually) One GAP workshop *

(recommended annually)

Certificate Holder Individual Farm Central Entity (food hub, support organization or central business entity)
Certification Costs Individual Grower Shared among group members as determined by the group
Traceability Individual Grower Central Entity and group members cooperatively
Transparency Varies among growers Creates transparency of the group in every level of the operation building confidence in customers, manager and producers
Continual Improvement Varies among growers Requires implementation of a quality management system (QMS), a set of policies, processes and procedures that can be measured, analyzed, reviewed, and continually improved.
Customer Satisfaction Varies among growers Uses a systems approach ensuring consistency in verifying customers needs are met

* Additional training may be required for the Group’s Administrator.


Which certification program is USDA GroupGAP audited to?

Groups have the option to certify to one of two food safety standards: 1.) USDA GAP/GHP or 2.) The Produce GAPs Harmonized Food Safety Standard (Harmonized GAP). The central entity, with feedback from group members, determine the standard that best meets the needs of the operation and buyer requirements, which may vary by region.


Who can form a Group?

The USDA’s GroupGAP QMS approach to food safety can be applied to organizations of any size, with varied business models, and to growers who access a number of different markets. Food hubs, support organizations, grocery retailers, wholesalers, farmers markets, or individual growers are all great candidates for USDA GroupGAP if it meets organizational goals.


What are the central entities responsibilities?

  • Identify site-specific best practices for production and management
  • Employ a qualified Internal Auditor, or utilize a third-party administrator, and maintain continuing education requirements
  • Develop a quality management system (QMS) that incorporates external verification methods
  • Provide necessary farmer training and capacity building to implement food safety practices at the farm level that meet the requirements of the QMS
  • Conduct farm level internal audits and record results to ensure compliance


Where can I learn more about GroupGAP?

For more information about forming a Group, email Karen McSwain, CFSA’s Farm Services & Food Systems Director.


Additional USDA GroupGAP Resources:


The Wallace Center:

EXPERT TIP: Farm Food Safety Begins with Worker Health and Personal Hygiene

by James Cooper, CFSA’s Local Produce Safety Coordinator

veggie standProduce contamination at the farm level can come from many different sources including but not limited to: water, wildlife, livestock, soil amendments, and humans. Regardless of whether or not you are seeking Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) certification or are required to be compliant with the Food Safety modernization Act (FSMA), every farmer, and their employees should understand the import role proper health and hygiene has on food safety and the health of your customers.

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EXPERT TIP: I’m GAPs certified. Am I Also FSMA Compliant?

Many growers are asking this question. As of today, the answer, unfortunately, is “no.”  

by Patricia Tripp, CFSA Local Produce Safety Coordinator 

High Country photo

Understanding the difference between GAPs certification and The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will be essential for growers. Simply put, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) is a voluntary food safety program driven by buyers, whereas FSMA is law. Learn More

EXPERT TIP: Enhancing the Safety of Produce through Water Use

By Patricia Tripp, CFSA’s Local Produce Safety Coordinator


Water is a basic necessity of life and is essential in the production of fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only is water used for irrigation purposes in agriculture, it is often used for cleaning purposes before marketing the produce. Water may also be used to protect crops from frost or to apply fertilizers or pesticides. Ensuring that you have clean water on the farm for these practices is an important part of minimizing contamination by disease causing micro-organisms called pathogens. Water can carry pathogens such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Norovirus, Salmonella, and E. coli 0157:H7 Learn More