The USDA GAP Audit Program was developed as a market access tool for producers to meet annual food safety good agricultural practices audits required by buyers to ensure specific food safety practices are being followed based on buyer specifications and/or industry best practices.
- USDA GAP audits verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.
- USDA GAP audits are voluntary and are conducted by a USDA-certified auditor.
- USDA audits generally occur on a scheduled basis at least once a year during harvest or post-harvest activities; unannounced verification audits also may take place, depending on the scope of the audit and the length of the production period.
Types of Audits
The USDA GAP Audit Program offers two types of audit services – a process audit and a system audit.
Regardless of the type, all audits address hazards, identify routes of contamination, implement good agricultural practices, and document activities. The main differences are the level of complexity, stringency, and cost.