Glossary of Terms and FAQ

Produce Safety Terms


An audit is a voluntary review of a farm’s food safety practices to confirm compliance with the audit’s produce safety standards. Produce buyers may ask their supplying farms to pass an audit as a purchasing requirement. An audit only reviews the crop(s) requested by the producer, so a farm may have an audit to review only a portion of its total crops grown. See Produce Safety Rule Inspections and Third-Party Audits factsheet for more information.

Corrective Actions

Actions to be taken by the auditee if it is found that they do not meet the requirement.

Covered Activity

Covered activity means growing, harvesting, packing, or holding covered produce on a farm. This includes manufacturing/processing of covered produce on a farm, but only to the extent that such activities are performed on raw agricultural commodities and only to the extent that such activities are within the meaning of “farm”. Providing, acting consistently with, and documenting actions taken in compliance with written assurances as described in § 112.2(b) are also covered activities.

Covered Produce

Produce that is subject to the requirements of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule in accordance with § 112.1 and § 112.2. The term “covered produce” refers to the harvestable or harvested part of the crop.

Farm Food Safety Plan

A written document that outlines the farm’s food safety practices and may include recordkeeping logs, Standard Operating Procedures, and other supporting documents that help growers implement food safety practices. A Farm Food Safety Plan is not required for the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, but is required for many third-party food safety audits.

Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)

Any agricultural management practice or operational procedure that reduces microbial risks or prevents contamination of fruits and vegetables on the farm or in packing areas.


An inspection is a mandatory review of a farm’s food safety practices to confirm compliance with the FSMA PSR. An inspection is a review of all covered crops and covered activities on a farm, and is conducted by either an FDA or state agency official, depending on the state. See Produce Safety Rule Inspections and Third-Party Audits factsheet for more information.

Intermediate Markets

USDA Census of Agriculture defines intermediate markets as businesses or organizations in the middle of the supply chain marketing locally- an/or regionally-branded products, such as distributors, food hubs, brokers, auction houses, wholesale and terminal markets, food processors, etc.

Mock Recall

An evaluation of a farm’s ability to trace a specific product lot to the buyer to which it was sold (one step forward) and to farm records indicating all inputs used during crop production (one step back).


Any fruit or vegetable (including mixes of intact fruits and vegetables) and includes mushrooms, sprouts (irrespective of seed source), peanuts, tree nuts, and herbs. A fruit is the edible reproductive body of a seed plant or tree nut (such as apple, orange, and almond) such that fruit means the harvestable or harvested part of a plant developed from a flower. A vegetable is the edible part of an herbaceous plant (such as cabbage or potato) or fleshy fruiting body of a fungus (such as white button or shiitake) grown for an edible part such that vegetable means the harvestable or harvested part of any plant or fungus whose fruit, fleshy fruiting bodies, seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves, or flower parts are used as food and includes mushrooms, sprouts, and herbs (such as basil or cilantro). Produce does not include food grains meaning the small, hard fruits or seeds of arable crops, or the crops bearing these fruits or seeds, that are primarily grown and processed for use as meal, flour, baked goods, cereals and oils rather than for direct consumption as small, hard fruits or seeds (including cereal grains, pseudo cereals, oilseeds and other plants used in the same fashion). Examples of food grains include barley, dent- or flint-corn, sorghum, oats, rice, rye, wheat, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, and oilseeds (e.g., cotton seed, flax seed, rapeseed, soybean, and sunflower seed).

Produce Safety Rule (PSR)

The Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule (PSR) sets mandatory standards for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding produce for human consumption.


USDA Census of Agriculture defines retail markets as supermarkets, supercenters, restaurants, caterers, independently owned grocery stores, food cooperatives, etc.


A record is a document stating results achieved or providing evidence of activities performed. Records may include checklists, service records, billing forms, and water tests.

Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is a process to identify potential hazards on a farm and/or packinghouse as well as the likelihood the hazards will impact the safety of fruits and vegetables. Risk assessments should be documented in the manner which best represents the operation and the type of risk assessment required. 

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

Written description of an activity and how to properly complete the activity. An SOP should specify all the materials needed to complete the activity, the frequency with which the activity is conducted, and how to document the activity. An SOP may also include which employees are responsible for completing the activity and provide corrective actions to mitigate the problems that are likely to happen.


Are the conditions verified by the auditor to determine if the auditee meets the requirement.

Written Policies, Procedures, and/or Plans

A policy is high-level guidance that describes general goals and acceptable procedures for an organization. A procedure is a specified way to carry out an activity or process. A plan outlines actions that will be taken by an organization to mitigate risk. Policies, procedures and plans may be communicated orally or in writing. 


What is the difference between an audit and inspection?

While going through an audit or an inspection on the farm may appear similar in process, it is important to know that they are different in more ways than just an inspection being mandatory and an audit being voluntary. An inspection verifies all covered crops and all covered activities based on the standards established in the FSMA PSR. Audits, on the other hand, range in what crops and activities they verify and can be based on a variety of different audit standards. Some audits have been matched or benchmarked to the FSMA PSR in order to meet buyer interest in having an audit that demonstrates practices aligned with the PSR; however, an inspection and an audit are separate processes. A producer that has both a PSR inspection and an audit will need to meet the standards of both independently. Successfully meeting the standards of one does not guarantee successfully meeting the standards of the other. See Produce Safety Rule Inspections and Third-Party Audits factsheet for more information.