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Start a Food Safety Plan

USDA Audit Checklist

GAP Resources
Food Safety Begins on the Farm
GAP and GHP Audit Verification Program
SC Farm Traceability Program

Where can I get help?  

What should my plan look like?  

Ask an Agent/Specialist  
Andy Rollins
Grady Sampson
Morgan Judy
Powell Smith
Tony Melton

Extension Fruit and Vegetable Information  

SCDA Program Contact
Grading and Inspection Programs  

Jack Dantzler
Phone: (803) 737-4588


Weatherly Thomas
Food Safety Coordinator, SCDA
wthomas@scda.sc.gov
Phone: (803) 738-5937
Phone: (803) 737-4373


Description: C:\Users\BLAKEL\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\BERDY3RC\MP900426647[1].jpg What are Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)?

GAP is the acronym for Good Agricultural Practices. Such practices include comprehensive approaches for examining the grower’s operation from field to produce handling areas with the goal of identifying potential contamination points. When properly utilized, GAPs can prevent on-farm contamination of fruits and vegetables.

Though many of the techniques may be common to the food service industry and businesses therein, GAPs represent a new way of thinking about food safety on the farm. Such techniques recognize that all possible measures must be taken to prevent foodborne disease as fresh produce moves through production and distribution systems. Every grower should take time to learn about potential food safety hazards that can occur on the farm or orchard and the preventative steps that may be taken to reduce contamination with harmful microbes.

Where the primary goal for GAPs utilization is the limitation of foodborne illness and protection of public health, a secondary goal is the limitation of liability for food distributors and farm businesses. Such techniques not only protect the public from illness, but they also protect your farm business from the economic consequences of food contamination.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued GAP guidelines in the document "The Guide to Minimizing Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Produce".  Although these guidelines are voluntary, many produce buyers including grocery stores, restaurants, and distributors are now requiring proof of GAP compliance, through third party inspections, as a condition of purchase.

How to Use This Tool?

The following survey tool has been designed to solicit answers to the most common pieces of operational information required in Farm Food Safety Plan. The completion of this plan is the first step towards achievement of GAP Certification.

Information entered through this program is password protected and may be modified and/or added on an ongoing basis. To start a Farm Food Safety Plan:

  1. Create a user name and password for your plan
  2. Complete information requested in each of the (16) plan sections. (In some cases, questions will be multiple-choice for which an answer must be selected. In others, you may be required to list, describe or upload information for inclusion into the final report.)
  3. Upload content requested by the survey by selecting the Appendix tab
  4. Following completion of the survey sections, select generate report and save the .Word document to your computer. Additional formatting may be required. You may contact technical support for this purpose.

The resulting data will be formatted into a Farm Food Safety Plan template that may then be saved online and printed as needed.

Each section contains helpful notes and model procedure that should be used as a guide to your responses. Feel free to copy, paste and modify these model procedures as needed when replying to a specific question. In addition, helpful resources may be accessed through the resources link which provides best practices, standards and guidelines for procedures that need to be addressed. Additional guidance and resources may be viewed on the SC Gap Pan Builder homepage.

For technical assistance or guidance in completing this plan builder survey, contact Blake Lanford or your local Clemson Extension office.

What do I do when I’ve completed the plan?

Once you’ve completed the development of a Farm Food Safety Plan for your farm, contact your local Extension agent for input. Upon final completion, the plan will be submitted to Jack Dantzler with SC Fruit and Vegetable Inspection Service. A farm visit and audit procedure will be scheduled and you’ll be well on your way to GAP Certification.