Delaware fruit and vegetable growers can receive financial support in obtaining a third-party audit to verify they are following effective food safety practices.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture is extending its Food Safety Audit Cost-Share Program for growers to include any third party food safety audit, not just U.S. Department of Agriculture Harmonized GAP audits. With an additional $20,000 for farmers to use to offset required audit costs, DDA wants to make sure that producers are prepared for the Food Safety Modernization Act and the Produce Safety Rule.

Food safety audits verify that fruit and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. The Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Food Products Inspection Section will pay 80 percent of the cost of a USDA AMS or commercial third-party food safety audit with a maximum reimbursement of $1,000 per year. In order to be eligible, producers must successfully complete a third-party USDA AMS or commercial audit this year, prior to Sept. 29.

Funding will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis, but Delaware growers must fully complete the necessary application and forms, be able to show verification of successful audit completion, billing and proof of payment for the audit.

For more, call 698-4545 or email andrea.jackson@state.de.us.