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.

Process Audits

GAP audits are voluntary, third-party (USDA) audits that focus on the use of best agricultural practices to verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.

Get the GAP Audit Checklist >

Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices (HGAP) audits allow farmers to demonstrate to buyers that they are implementing specific requirements set forth in the PSR. This GAP audit service was aligned with the PSR to demonstrate that all the metrics used in the USDA program meet the Rule’s ultimate goals of increasing food safety. However, the USDA HGAP Audit Program is not a substitution for a PSR compliance inspection conducted by a regulatory agency.

Get the Harmonized GAP Audit Checklist >

Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices Plus+ (HGAP Plus+) is the USDA audit service acknowledged as equivalent to the GFSI Technical Equivalence Requirements. Many retail, food service, and institutional buyers require their suppliers to undergo a food safety audit conducted against one of the GFSI recognized certification programs.

Get the Harmonized GAP Plus+ Audit Checklist >

The Mushroom GAP audit is a commodity-specific voluntary audit performed throughout production and the supply chain.

Get the Mushroom Gap Audit >

The Leafy Green Marketing Agreements and audits with California and Arizona specifically address reducing potential sources of contamination in leafy greens.

View the California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (LGMA) >

System Audits

USDA established the GroupGAP Certification Program (GroupGAP) in 2016. GroupGAP allows individual farmers to certify their practices together as part of a centrally-managed group, meeting the latest FSMA requirements and certifying to either GAP, Harmonized GAP, or Harmonized GAP Plus+ GFSI Equivalent audit standards.

How GroupGAP Works

See the process from start to finish.

GroupGAP in Action

Audit Costs

Understand the cost and features associated with each audit type.

Audit Comparisons

Getting Started

Find the resources and training to help prepare for your GAP or GroupGAP audit.

Learn How to Begin the Process