Agricultural Water: Identify source and distribution of water used.
Be aware of current and historical use of land. Review existing practices
and conditions to identify potential sources of contamination. Consider
practices that will protect water quality. Maintain wells in good working
condition. Consider practices to minimize contact of the edible portion
of fresh produce with contaminated irrigation water. Where water quality
is good, risk is low regardless of irrigation method.
Processing Water: Maintain water quality, such as by periodic testing
for microbial contamination, changing water regularly, and cleaning
and sanitizing water contact surfaces. Antimicrobial chemicals may help
minimize the potential for microbial contamination to be spread by processing
water; levels of antimicrobial chemicals should be routinely monitored
and recorded to ensure they are maintained at appropriate levels. As organic
material and microbial load increase, the effectiveness of many antimicrobial
chemicals will decrease. Filtering recirculating water or scooping organic
material from tanks may help reduce the build-up of organic materials.
Cooling Operations: Maintain temperatures that promote optimum produce
quality and minimize pathogen growth. Keep air cooling and chilling equipment
clean and sanitary. Keep water and ice clean and sanitary. Manufacture,
transport, and store ice under sanitary conditions.
Manure: Properly treated manure can be an effective and safe fertilizer.
If manure is used as a fertilizer, it should be managed to minimize microbial
hazards. Use treatments to reduce pathogens in manure and other organic
materials. Treatments may be active (e.g., composting) or passive (e.g.,
aging). Manure treatment and storage sites close to fresh produce fields
increase the risk of contamination. Consider factors such as slope and
rainfall and the likelihood of runoff into fresh produce production areas.
Use barriers or physical containment to secure storage and treatment sites.
Protect treated manure from being re-contaminated. When purchasing treated
manure, get information about the method of treatment. Maximize the time
between application of manure to production areas and harvest. Use of raw
manure on produce during the growing season is not recommended.
Animal Feces: While not possible to exclude all animal life from fresh
produce production areas, many field programs include elements to protect
crops from animal damage. Domestic animals should be excluded from fields
and orchards during the growing and harvesting season. Ensure animal waste
from adjacent fields, pastures, or waste storage facilities does not contaminate
fresh produce production areas. Where necessary, consider physical barriers
such as ditches, mounds, grass/sod waterways, diversion berms, and vegetative
Control of wild animal populations may be difficult or restricted by
animal protection requirements. However, to the extent feasible, where
high concentrations of wildlife are a concern, consider practices to deter
or redirect wildlife to areas where crops are not destined for fresh produce
Worker Health and Hygiene: Infected employees who work with fresh produce
increase the risk of transmitting food borne illness. Train employees to
follow good hygienic practices. Establish a training program directed towards
health and hygiene that include basics such as proper hand washing techniques
and the importance of using toilet facilities. Become familiar with typical
signs and symptoms of infectious diseases. Offer protection to workers
with cuts or lesions on parts of the body that may make contact with fresh
produce. If employees wear gloves, be sure the gloves are used properly
and do not become a vehicle for spreading pathogens. U-pick and road-side
produce operations should promote good hygienic practices with customers
that encourage hand washing, provide toilets that are well equipped, clean,
and sanitary and encourage washing fresh produce before consumption.
Sanitary Facilities: Poor management of human and other wastes in the
field or packing facility increases the risk of contaminating fresh produce.
Be familiar with laws and regulations that apply to field and facility
sanitation practices. Toilet facilities should be accessible to workers,
properly located, and well supplied. Keep toilets, hand washing stations,
and water containers clean and sanitary. Use caution when servicing portable
toilets to prevent leakage into a field Have a plan for containment in
the event of waste spillage.
Field Sanitation: Fresh produce may become contaminated during pre-harvest
and harvest activities from contact with soil, fertilizers, water, workers,
and harvesting equipment. Clean harvest storage facilities and containers
or bins prior to use. Take care not to contaminate fresh produce that is
washed, cooled, or packaged. Use harvesting and packing equipment appropriately
and keep as clean as practicable. Assign responsibility for equipment to
the person in charge.
Packing Facility: Maintain packing facilities in good condition to reduce
the potential for microbial contamination. Remove as much dirt as practicable
outside of packing facility. Clean pallets, containers, or bins before
use; discard damaged containers. Keep packing equipment, packing areas,
and storage areas clean. Store empty containers in a way that protects
them from contamination.
Pest Control: Establish and maintain a pest control program. Block access
of pests into enclosed facilities. Maintain a pest control log.
Transportation: Proper transport of fresh produce will help reduce the
potential for microbial contamination. Good hygienic and sanitation practices
should be used when loading, unloading, and inspecting fresh produce. Inspect
transportation vehicles for cleanliness, odors, obvious dirt and debris
before loading. Maintain proper transport temperatures. Load produce to
minimize physical damage.
Traceback: The ability to identify the source of a product can serve
as an important complement to good agricultural and management practices.
Develop procedures to track produce containers from the farm, to the packer,
distributor, and retailer. Documentation should indicate the source of
the product and other information, such as date of harvest, farm identification,
and who handled the produce. Growers, packers and shippers should partner
with transporters, distributors and retailers to develop technologies to
facilitate the traceback process. Once good agricultural and management
practices are in place, ensure that the process is working correctly. Without
accountability, the best efforts to minimize microbial contamination are
subject to failure.