The entire produce community – including the California avocado industry – is undergoing a vital transformation, as various food-borne illness outbreaks have forced consumers and the federal government to put into place greater regulations and standards regarding the safety of fresh produce. Acting under authority of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the Food & Drug Administration has proposed new regulations to implement more stringent food-safety requirements. This new regulatory oversight, along with growing customer demands, will soon require that every facet of the supply chain, including avocado growers, verify and document the safety of their operations and food they produce through a recognizable program.
While GAP certification is currently voluntary for California avocado growers, considering the aforementioned and the uncertainty of forthcoming requirements under FSMA, it makes sense for growers to verify that their practices are properly designed to minimize food safety risks by pursuing GAP certification now.
GAP resources for California avocado growers
To assist California avocado growers in becoming GAP certified, and to ensure the requirements are applicable for growing avocados, the Commission developed an avocado specific set of GAP procedures in late 2010 built around the United States Department of Agriculture’s standards. In August, 2011, the Board approved the CAC-GAP and CAC-GHP (Good Harvesting Practices) programs, which provide a uniform, common-sense set of procedures and guidelines for California avocado growers.
CAC has also developed numerous resources to assist avocado growers in preparation for the GAP audit by conducting self-audits. Achieving GAP certification of your food safety program should not be difficult or costly. The CAC-GAP Quick-Start Guide provides an introduction to the California Avocado Industry Good Agricultural Practices and Good Harvesting Practices to help get you started.
CAC is continuing to build the grower outreach campaign to help California avocado growers achieve GAP certification and will be working with handlers and the Avocado Society to provide workshops for growers to explain the GAP process along with answering any questions.
GAP incentive rebate
The Commission’s goal is to get a sizeable percentage of the industry GAP certified and to ensure industry uniformity in GAP certification. To help encourage California avocado growers to pursue GAP certification, the Commission approved a GAP Incentive Rebate (GIR). The GIR will reimburse participating growers for actual audit costs, up to $300 per ranch audit, subject to the availability of funds.
The USDA has also compiled a list of all California avocado groves that have been audited by USDA under the CAC-GAP program.
CAC GAP Educational Seminar February 2012
If you were unable to attend one of CAC’s GAP educational seminars, watch the video below for up-to-date information on CAC’s GAP program.
For further information about the CAC GAP program, or how to become GAP certified, please contact the Commission at 949-341-1955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.