Creating a Food Safety Plan

CAFF’s Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs ) page also has information about Food Safety.

There are a number of online “checklists” available from which to create a food safety plan.  These lists are often called a “matrix” or a list of questions a third party auditor will ask for and verify.  Until the produce rules under FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) are released, a customer, distributor, packer or even insurance company may ask for a copy of your Food Safety Plan made up from any of these third party matrix lists.  The key is to ‘say what you do, and do what you say’.  Feel free to call our CAFF Food Safety Program Manager with any questions you may have.

Sources of information for your food safety plan include:

A Food Safety Plan—why do we need one?: A food safety perspective by Cathy Carlson, CAFF’s Food Safety Program Manager.  Download.
Food Safety Begins on the Farm: A Grower Self Assessment of Food Safety Risks.  This checklist was created by Cornell University Department of Food Service as a self-assessment of on-farm risks.  Download:
LGMA (Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement): Created in 2007, the LGMA is working to establish a culture of food safety on leafy greens farms. There is an LGMA in California and another in Arizona. They are government sanctioned voluntary agreements of handlers. The handlers who participate require their growers to comply with the rules and be audited by the state government. For a download of the California matrix:
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA): This Association helps farmers and gardeners to grow organic food, fiber and other crops, and is an NOP organic certifier.  They have a food safety specialist who provides advice:
• NSF: NSF Agriculture (formerly Davis Fresh)   Their website guides small or local food producers through a step-by-step approach to achieving compliance to global food safety standards.
NCSI Americas, a division of NCS International, is a provider of auditing & certification services in North America. NCSI also provides training, specialist consulting & testing in support of their core business. Training schedule, location and costs are available on their website.  Link:
NY Farmers Market Federation: Has developed a spectrum of services to increase the number and capacity of farmers’ markets in the state.  On this site you will find a number of support materials on food safety.
Home Page:
Food Safety Protocols:
Food Safety Training Curriculum:
Publications and resources:
 On Farm Food Safety (OFFS): This is a free online tool, based on a comprehensive risk-based framework, which generates a customized on-farm food safety plan based on user input.  It was funded by the USDA and developed by in Chicago with assistance from a variety of organizations, including CAFF. Link:
• Primus Labs: The website contains audit information, blank food safety program documents and other protocols that you can customize to your food safety plan.  There are ‘guidelines’ available to define matrix questions.  All documents are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Produce Safety Alliance (PSA): This program was set up by the FDA and the USDA to provide fundamental, science-based, on-farm food safety knowledge to fresh fruit and vegetable farmers, packers, regulatory personnel and others interested in the safety of fresh produce. It is especially concerned with small farmers and is administered by Cornell University. Home page:
PSA Conference Proceedings and showcase materials:
PSA Materials:
List of Educational Materials:
Educational Resources:
Government Resources:
SureHarvest (sustainable food systems) provides services and software to growers and the agri-food chain to improve profitability by increasing efficiencies, enhancing product quality and practicing environmental stewardship. They administer a variety of sustainability programs in different commodities, which may eventually encompass food safety considerations.Link:
•  WSDA: The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is a great resource for small farm direct marketing ideas.  This information supports the producers, distributors, and consumers of Washington’s food and agricultural products, but the concepts can be applied in any state. Small Farm & Direct Marketing Video Series Link:


If you are certified organic

Probably three-quarters of the information you need for food safety is already being collected.

The leading organic certifier in California is:

CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers)
Phone: 831-423-2263, E-mail:
Besides being an organic certifier, CCOF representatives continue to participate in many LGMA meetings, conference calls, and events on the topic of food safety to ensure their clients, especially small growers, are not left out of the discussion. They are actively discussing including food safety certification in their program. CCOF now offers Global G.A.P. field-level food safety certification. Read more about their food safety efforts at

Fees (October 2013):
Application fee (one-time) – $325
Small farm certification – $500-$1,100

Other organic certifiers in California include

see USDA National Organic Program :
• A Bee Organic, (De Luz):
Contact: Sarah J.E. Costin & Ro Elgas, Telephone: 760-731-0155, Email:
Agricultural Services Certified Organic, LLC (Salinas):
Contact: Katherine Borchard, Phone: 831-449-6365, E-mail:
Fees: (June 2012)
Certification: approximately $50.00(commercial) to $96.00(USDA, AMS) per hour.
• Global Culture (Crescent City): Contact: Linda Van Hook, Phone: 707-464-6913, E-mail:
• Marin Organic Certified Agriculture (MOCA):
Contact: Anita Sauber or Stacy Carlsen, Phone: 415-499-6700
E-mail: or
Monterey County Certified Organic (MCCO):
Contact: Kenneth Allen, Phone: 831-759-7325, E-mail:
Organic Certifiers, Inc. (Ventura):
Contact: Susan Siple, Phone: 805-684-6494, E-mail:
Primuslabs (Santa Maria):
Contact: Brian A. Mansfield, Phone: 805-922-0055, E-mail:
Quality Assurance International (QAI), (San Diego):
Contact: Craig S. Morr, Phone: 734-769-5143, E-mail:
Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) NutriClean Organic Certification Program, (Emeryville):
Contact: Diana Kirsanovea-Phillips, Telephone: 510-452-9089, E-mail:
Yolo County Certified Organic Agriculture:
Contact: John Young, Phone: 530-666-8141, E-mail:

If you are certified organic, you must also register with the state:

California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA):


Updated 11-19-12

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