United Fresh supports and appreciates today’s announcement by USDA and FDA to align the USDA
Harmonized GAP audit with the Produce Safety Rule. The alignment provides growers with confidence
that the market access audit is consistent with federal produce safety requirements.
“It’s important that federal regulations and private audits don’t require growers to adhere to inconsistent or
conflicting requirements,” said Dr. Jennifer McEntire, United Fresh’s Vice President of Food Safety and
Technology. “This alignment between FDA and USDA is also evidence of the commitment the agencies
have made to work together in support of fresh produce safety.”
The technical requirements of the Harmonized Standard were developed nearly a decade ago by an
industry-driven process, facilitated by United Fresh, to reduce audit fatigue. There are several licensees
of the Harmonized Standard, each of which combines the freely-downloadable technical standard with
their unique audit process and auditor qualifications to encourage and evaluate food safety practices in
the growing and post-harvest environments. USDA has been the largest issuer of certificates, using their
HGAP, and now HGAP+ audits. The HGAP+ audit adds elements required to achieve technical
equivalency with the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), which, if successful, would make HGAP+ the
second audit based on the Harmonized Standard to achieve recognition from GFSI. Last summer,
GLOBALG.A.P.’s HPSS, also based on the Harmonized Standard, was successfully benchmarked.
“As Secretariat for the Harmonized Standard, United Fresh is pleased that the updates to the technical
standards that were made two years ago incorporated aspects of the new FSMA Produce Safety Rule,”
said Tom Stenzel, President & CEO. “Recognizing that food safety is of utmost importance to promote
consumer health and confidence in fresh fruits and vegetables, our Board of Directors has reaffirmed
United Fresh’s commitment to support the Harmonized Standard, and we continue to work closely with
USDA and other stakeholders to promote accessibility of the standard. FDA’s recognition of the USDA
program is an important step forward,” he said.