Commonwealth Quality requires that farmers employ food safety standards that minimize the risk of microbial contamination and food-borne illnesses. This requirement is accomplished through adherence to existing food safety assurance audit programs, such as the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) program, as well as other third party food safety audits, based on the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guidance document.
Massachusetts farmers can also fulfill the food safety requirement by both completing the University of Massachusetts GAPs session(s) and employing food safety practices identified in the Best Management Practices (BMPs) GAPs checklist developed by the University of Massachusetts Extension Service in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.
Commonwealth Quality ensures that certified fresh produce is grown and harvested using practices that minimize the risk of food borne illness by utilizing existing standards and BMPs that ensure:
- Microbial contamination of produce is minimized by eliminating potential risks.
- Prevention is achieved through practice implementation, training and education.
- Water sources are maintained in a way that limits possible pathogen transport.
- Compost management is conducted in a manner that reduces possible microbial contamination.
- Animal influence is restricted and minimized to avoid fecal contamination.
Worker safety and hygiene is monitored and controlled to minimize contamination risk.