Food safety compliance: For some, it’s as bad as a root canal. Others might prefer the root canal.

However, it’s a process all growers must go through if they want to enjoy a healthy business relationship with their partners. This quote in our feature, “Filling the G.A.P.” sums it up.

The large majority of U.S. grocery stores require GAP-GHP audits to do business… Of the larger, more established grocery chains, I would say 100 percent are there, but once you start getting into the smaller, more regional grocery store chains, I would say 75 percent or more are requiring it.

– Beth Oleson, food safety director of Produce Food Safety Services in LaGrange, Georgia

It’s about the details and a culture of consistency – the most important factors when dealing with compliance. Our food safety feature describes the moves that a Pennsylvania CSA made to achieve this. Across the country, growers are becoming more proactive in seeking these safety standards and having strong communication channels with grocery store chain customers.

“GAP certification is now mandatory of us,” said David Hahn of Pennsylvania-based Four Seasons Produce during the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention last February. “We didn’t put much pressure in the past, but this year, we definitely have to. A lot of that is customer driven. So, our customers are demanding it, so we have to.”

To fill in the gap (no pun intended), the United Fresh Produce Association, along with the National Association of Perishable Agricultural Receivers, have published, “How to Build a Food Safety Plan.” It’s a summary of each of the major FSMA rules and how they impact wholesalers, including a step-by-step review of the Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule, which requires the development of a food safety plan.

“Wholesalers face many of the same food safety regulatory challenges that other members of the produce supply chain do under FSMA, but the unique nature of the wholesale produce business means the rules apply differently to these types of companies,” said Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety and technology, United Fresh Produce Association, in a release. “It’s critical that wholesalers and distributors understand their responsibilities under the new rules, and this new publication provides step-by-step guidance on assessing how the rules apply to your operations and developing the appropriate company food safety plan.”

The publication is on sale and available for download at the United Fresh website.

Cheers!