In the absence of federal regulations governing food safety at the farm level, a growing number of wholesale and institutional produce buyers are requiring farmers to comply with a food safety protocol and pass a third party audit in order to sell their product. Though audit requirements differ among buyers, most require documentation, testing and other added costs, many requirements conflict with those of environmental programs supported by state and federal agencies.
The proliferation of private industry food safety protocols and mandatory audits unduly burdens many produce farmers and confuses consumers without delivering clear food safety benefits. Many small, diversified or organic farms can't pass the audits, not because they are unsafe, but because the audits require things that are completely inappropriate for the production systems they use.
This report is an analysis of produce food safety protocols and recommendations for how to appropriately represent small, diversified and organic farms.