The Food Safety Audit Cost-Share Program for growers will now include any third party food safety audit, not just USDA Harmonized GAP ones.
Audits verify that fruit and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored in a safe manner to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.
With an additional $20,000 for farmers to offset required audit costs, DDA wants to make sure producers are prepared for the Food Safety Modernization Act and Produce Safety Rule.
Andrea Jackson, DDA food products inspection administrator, said it wants to be more inclusive of third party audits.
“Throughout the past two years, we have found fewer buyers requesting produce growers to participate in the Harmonized GAP audits that USDA provides,” she said.
“More farmers are being required to participate in audits such as Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) schemes. Any of these audits are important in helping farmers recognize preventative measures for food safety.”
The DDA’s Food Products Inspection Section will pay 80% of a USDA AMS or commercial third party food safety audit with a maximum reimbursement of $1,000 per year.
To be eligible, producers must successfully complete a third party USDA AMS or commercial audit this year, prior to September 29, 2017.
Funding is on a first come, first serve basis, but growers must complete the application and forms, be able to show verification of successful audit completion, billing and proof of audit payment.