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Foodborne illnesses associated with fresh produce have dramatically increased within the last decade. Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) were developed to address potential sources of pre-harvest microbial contamination, but certification remains low. The majority of mid-Atlantic vegetable farms are fresh market, but limited information is available about what on-farm production practices are being utilized to mitigate food safety risks. Our goal was to assess Maryland and Delaware vegetable producers' understanding and implementation of GAP. An electronic survey on pre-harvest production practices was administered at commercial grower meetings in 2010 and 2013. A total of 313 surveys were analyzed, and Probit regression was used to estimate the average marginal effects of farm scale, years in production and market channel on the probability of using different on-farm food safety practices. Generally, food safety practices did not differ across farm scale or years in production. However, market channel did influence a grower's decision to implement some food safety practices. Growers who marketed their produce primarily through wholesale channels were more likely to: have written policies for how they grew and handled their produce, test their irrigation water at least once a year for microbial contamination, or be GAP-certified. Economic constraints were not reported as the primary obstacle for GAP implementation in either survey. While more research is needed to better understand how market channel influences decision-making activities including on-farm food safety practices, this study highlights the complexity of the issue and the need for GAP educational programs to expand beyond a one-size-fits-all approach.


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© Elsevier. Final version published as: Marine, S. C., Martin, D. A., Adalja, A., Mathew, S., & Everts, K. L. (2016). Effect of market channel, farm scale, and years in production on mid-Atlantic vegetable producers' knowledge and implementation of good agricultural practices. Food Control, 59, 128-138. doi: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2015.05.024
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.