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GAP & GHP- Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices

AMS, in partnership with state departments of agriculture, offers a voluntary, audit based program that verifies adherence to the recommendations made in the Food and Drug Administration's Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.

The Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices Audit Verification Program is broken down into three major sections:

  • Good Agricultural Practices which examines farm practices
  • Good Handling Practices which concentrates on packing facilities, storage facilities and wholesale distribution centers
  • Food Defense protocols utilized throughout the food chain.

In addition to this program, AMS provides oversight for the Leafy Green Marketing Agreements in effect in California and Arizona, along with the California Tomato Growers Cooperative, each with specific best practices criteria that their members can be audited against.

It has been noted that the inspection and verification of organic production and the AMS GAP and GHP programs may be duplicative at least for the first required GAP/GHP inspection. An OSP will include practices and procedures for cleaning, sanitation, and contamination prevention and to review to the GAP and GHP standard would seem natural. At this time due to the structure of the monitoring arms of the USDA these two inspections cannot be combined in an Organic Certification Agency unless it is State operated.

A Bee Organic hopes that upon further review a GAP/GHP equivalency will be established and integrated into the NOP so we can better serve our clients by providing this service. If you would like more information about GAP/GHP contact:


Kenneth S. Petersen
Audit Programs Coordinator
Fresh Products Branch
USDA, AMS, Fruit and Vegetable Programs
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Room 1661, Stop 0240
Washington, D.C. 20250-0240
Phone: (202) 720-4560
FAX: (202) 720-8871
E-mail: ken.petersen@ams.usda.gov

In California:

AFVISA GAP Committee Chairperson:
Steve Thomas
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Program Supervisor
CA Fed-State Inspection Service
165 East Tulare
Dinuba, CA 93618
Phone: 559-595-8000
Email: sthomas@cdfa.ca.gov

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