University of Vermont

Cultivating Healthy Communities

Produce Safety & GAPs Resources

The Center's Produce Safety team has compiled the following list of documents, links, videos and fact sheets to help produce farmers as they develop, implement, and ujpdate their produce safety plans, and as they approach GAPs certification or learn about how FSMA may apply to their farms.

Please don't hesitate to contact Ginger at or 802-505-8189 (cell) or the Center's main number at 802-656-5459 with any questions or if there is specific information you need.

Because we have a lot of information available here, we also have the below search field to help you find what would be most helpful for you.

Important GAPs Updates

  • New (as of 2014) USDA Requirements for Growers Using Chlorine in Wash Water: Do you use chlorine as a disinfectant in your wash water? The USDA has recently noticed that some growers are using bleach (Clorox TM) as a disinfectant in post-harvest washing systems. Disinfectants are regulated the same way as pesticides and unless the label on the bottle indicates EPA approval for washing fruits and vegetables, it is against federal law to use it for that purpose. USDA has indicated that if an auditor observes a grower using an unapproved disinfectant for washing produce or food contact surfaces, that grower will fail the audit. See this page from Penn State for more information. Also see this UMass Extension document on Wash Water Sanitizers for more details on how to use chlorine and peroxyacetic acid as disinfectants, and this document from North Caroline State Extension about choosing and using chlorine-based products.
  • New GAPs Audit Request Forms for 2015. Use these forms (Audit Request Form and Audit Agreement Form) to request a GAPs Audit in 2015. Submit to Steve Parise at, or call Steve at 802-793-2565 with any questions.
  • GAPs Certification Reimbursements to end December 2014. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture still has reimbursement money for GAPs audits available until December 31, 2014. Up to $500 is available for a grower that passes a USDA GAPs audit this season. Reimbursements are primarily for the first and second year of GAPs certification, as there is a $1000 lifetime limit, and a $500/year limit. If interested in an audit, contact Steve Parise at, or 802-793-2565

Getting Started on GAPs

  • Basic information on VT GAPs and GHP Audit Program (read this first)
  • GAPs Plan of Action Template There are several possible ways to format your farm food safety plan. One way is to write it as a manual as Cedar Circle did - organizing it in the way that makes the most sense to you and to your employees. Another way to organize it is to use this template which we have formatted to mirror the Auditor's checklist. While there is redundancy in the Plan of Action format, the benefit is that you know that your plan covers all of the items the auditor will be looking for, and it will take less time for the auditor to review your plan. You can always cut and paste sections of this template into your employee manual. Special thanks to Wythe Morris, ANR Extension Agent, Virginia Cooperative Extension for developing and letting us use and modify his Plan of Action template.
  • USDA GAPs Users Guide
  • USDA GAPs Checklist This is what the Auditor will use to score you. (There is an Excel version of the checklist on the USDA website if you want to try to score yourself - just be aware that the auditor may have a different interpretation than yours)
  • Contact Steve Parise VAAFM Agricultural Resources Specialist, also at 802-828-2426) to request an audit and fill out the 1. Audit Request Form. and 2. Audit Agreement Form. Insert your information into the appropriate spaces. Go to the top & hit "Save." E-mail completed forms to Be sure to contact Steve as soon as you decide you want to be audited in order to reserve a space in the auditor's queue. You can put a general time such as "Mid-August" on the line for Anticipated Date of Audit, and then negotiate the specific date with the Auditor later in the season.

Documents Needed for GAPs Plans

Using Sanitizers in Wash Water

Information on Traceability, Recalls and Liability

More Produce Safety Web Resources for Farmers

Costs and Equipment Associated with GAPs and Produce Safety

Produce Safety Videos

Resources on Wash Station and Pack Shed Layout and Design

Useful Fact Sheets on Food Safety Practices

Produce Safety Research and Data

Food and Produce Safety Blogs and Listservs

Policy Updates on Food Safety Legislation and Regulations

Last modified July 23 2015 12:26 PM