Food Safety Plan, GAP Certification, and Organic Labeling

Organic Labeling:

Some farmers choose to become certified organic. Depending on your product, you may be able to charge a premium price for your products if it is certified organic. Customers may be looking for the assurance that the food you raise is free of chemicals, and organic certification is one way to make your growing practices clear from a branding standpoint. In Rhode Island, the DEM is a great source for information on getting certified organic.

What is Organic?
Definition from the USDA:Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.

Organic Certification Program in Rhode Island through the Department of Environmental Management

GAP certification

GAP certification has become a popular addition to, or completely independent of, organic certification. Good Agricultural Practices, or “GAP”, are standards meant to ensure food safety for the products you grow; these standards have come about in response to incidents where produce has caused outbreaks of illness. Some wholesale buyers such as supermarkets, restaurants or food service buyers require their producers to be GAP-certified as a condition of purchase.  Third party GAP certification is voluntary and not required by law.

For more information about guidelines and how to become GAP-certified, visit the website for the Rhode Island GAP Grower Certification Program: or read more from the New England Extension Food Safety Consortium.

Food Safety Plan

Similar to GAP certification, a Food Safety Plan is an additional business practice that will minimize the risk of food contamination, while creating a clear message about your products to your customers. The plan might also improve your ability to gain entry to wholesale and retail markets. Visit this online tool through the On-Farm Food Safety Project to help you create a customized Food Safety Plan, implement your plan, and prepare for a Food Safety Audit.

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