The USDA and FDA have announced that they will be aligning the USDA’s Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices Audit Program (USDA H-GAP) with the requirements of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.
The Produce Safety Rule, which went into effect on Jan. 26, 2016, establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. Large farming operations were required to be in compliance in January 2018, but smaller operations have additional time to comply.
The requirements of the two programs are not exactly identical, but relevant technical components of the Produce Safety Rule are covered in the H-GAP Audit Program.
The alignment is intended to make it easier for farmers to assess their food safety practices as they prepare to comply with the Produce Safety Rule. They are not intended to replace FDA or state regulatory inspections.