ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Wegmans Food Markets will require all produce farms that supply its stores to pass a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) inspection beginning Sept. 30.
The retailer started mandating GAP inspections for high-risk crops like spinach and melons in 2008 and has phased in the requirement for other produce suppliers since. Most suppliers already have passed a GAP audit, Wegmans said in a statement.
“These audits are the best way we have to know that a grower is following practices to minimize the chance of pathogens getting into the food supply,” Bill Pool, food safety manager for produce, said in a press release. “We all want to keep earning our customers’ trust in the safety of the fresh foods we offer.”
Wegmans said several hundred growers have participated in the retailer’s food safety education training sessions since 2005.
“Some of the smaller local growers we work with didn’t have the same resources, so it took them longer,” said Pool. “We’ve partnered with research universities and held training sessions to help educate smaller growers. Food safety concerns apply to farms of all sizes, and it doesn’t really matter if the farm is conventional or organic. The FDA [Food and Drug Administration] Food Safety Modernization Act has an exemption for small farms, but we believe that rigorous food safety standards should apply to all farms we work with.”
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