Published 25 Mar 2022
What is a GAP Audit?
The USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) & Good Handling Practices (GHP) audit verification program, also called GAP audit, is a voluntary certification program that determines if a food producer follows the USFDA’s recommendations on maintaining the safety and quality of fruits and vegetables. A GAP audit certification means that a food producer took proactive steps to maintain food safety and that they can engage in business with customers or suppliers that require GAP certification.
A Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audit checklist is a tool used to determine a producer’s compliance with food safety practices based on industry standards and the USFDA’s recommendations. Use this comprehensive checklist to discover areas for improvement in current agricultural practices, address food safety issues, and continuously monitor improvements. This checklist contains parts 1,2,3,4,6 and 7 of the USDA Good Agricultural Practices Good Handling Practices Audit Verification Checklist which are as follows:
- Part 1: Farm Review
- Part 2: Field Harvest and Field Packing Activities
- Part 3: House Packing Facility
- Part 4: Storage and Transportation
- Part 6: Wholesale Distribution Center/Terminal Warehouses
- Part 7: Preventive Food Defense Procedures
This article briefly discusses
- the steps to prepare for a GAP audit;
- irrigation audit as part of the audit;
- main parts of irrigation audit;
- technology to help capture food safety hazards and comply with food safety practices; and
- free GAP audit checklists.
- Read and understand the USFDA’s recommendations for agricultural produce: “Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.”
- Review the appropriate GAP audit for you based on your product and the customer’s requirements.
- Conduct internal audits to determine areas for improvement on food safety.
- Ensure competency needs are met based on the conducted internal checks.
- Request for a GAP & GHP audit.
An irrigation audit is a qualitative assessment of an irrigation system’s overall condition. It aims to estimate potential dollar and water savings through conscious practices. This procedure also helps determine the overall distribution uniformity (DU) of water and creates the most efficient watering schedule for water conservation. An irrigation audit helps assess the overall performance of the irrigation systems. It helps identify risks, hazards, and opportunities to improve the system’s operation. An irrigation system audit can support agricultural and landscaping businesses to:
- conserve water through scheduled irrigation based on water requirements and availability;
- ensure public safety and reduce aquatic pollution;
- identify areas that need immediate attention to reduce costly repairs;
- minimize water waste; and
- ensure irrigation system’s reliability and effectiveness.
Irrigation audits that are in compliance with international guidelines are performed by professional contractors and Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditors (CLIA). CLIAs often perform two-stage irrigation audits: the first stage is more of a visual assessment of the irrigation water system, while the second stage focuses on scientific system tests to obtain data on plant water requirements and precipitation rates.
It consists of three major activities which all lead to the development of a cost-efficient irrigation schedule that is best for the clients. With the help of an irrigation audit checklist for maintenance, CLIAs go through these stages to gather valuable information and recommend site-specific solutions.
- Site inspection
Without scheduled maintenance, irrigation systems deteriorate over time. Clients would likely not notice this, which can lead to prolonged excessive water consumption and decreased plant performance. Site inspections help CLIAs have an initial assessment of landscape conditions and immediately identify areas that need fixing. After the site inspection, they perform tests to gain more scientific evidence.
- Performance testing
The most common type of test for irrigation audits is the “catch can test”, which helps provide the most accurate value of precipitation rate within the landscape. Depending on the size of the property, catch can test are spread across different sprinkler systems in different zones to produce area-specific data.
- Irrigation scheduling
Once the visual inspection and performance tests are done, CLIAs recommend a site-specific, science-based irrigation schedule. The process of professional irrigation audits helps avoid creating schedules based on mere generalizations and assumptions. Especially for landscape properties as large as sports fields, city parks, and golf courses, it is critical to optimize irrigation schedules according to the different precipitation rates in individual zones.
The goal of preparing for a GAP audit is not only to obtain certification and meet customer requirements but also to ensure that a food producer has proactively taken steps to maintain the food safety of the produce. Maintaining an effective and documented food safety process can be costly and time-consuming, particularly if the food producer relies on paper-based documentation. Overcome the challenges of maintaining food safety with iAuditor, the world’s most powerful auditing app. With the iAuditor mobile app and software, food producers can:
- Conduct internal audits using mobile-ready food safety and GAP audit checklists
- Take photos and describe food safety hazards using the app
- Immediately address issues found and assign corrective actions
- Save time by generating comprehensive audit reports on the spot. Preview a sample web and PDF report.
- Use for free with small teams. Unlimited reports and storage for premium accounts.
Best Digital GAP Audit Checklists
Use this field harvest and field packing activities checklist to inspect for food safety hazards in the field and determine steps to correct them before the official GAP audit.
Use this wholesale distribution center/terminal warehouse checklist to inspect for food safety hazards and determine steps to correct them before the official GAP audit.
Go paperless with this digital irrigation audit checklist template and perform assessments of irrigation systems, determine the overall distribution uniformity (DU) of water, and develop the most efficient watering schedule for water conservation. Download sample irrigation audit report.
- Take photos of broken or misaligned equipment
- Capture shots of the site and annotate sprinkler system zones
- Assign tasks/actions to individuals responsible for minor maintenance activities
- Setup automatic reminders for scheduled irrigation audits
- Sign off electronically with digital signatures