Farm to Institution Food Safety Basics graphic

Farm to Institution Food Safety Basics

April 20, 2022 - <>, <>, <>, <>, Landen Tetil, Phil Britton, Micah Hutchison, Keith Soster, <>, Alex Palzewicz

Institutional buyers have a variety of options to verify their produce suppliers’ food safety practices. Some programs may be a better fit than others for an institution, depending on factors such as institutional policy, scale of farm vendors, and supplier mix. Some food safety verification programs, such as certification, involve significant financial investment for the farm.

There is no right answer nor one-size-fits-all approach to verifying produce safety practices. Therefore, it is important for institutions to be aware of the full slate of options available. 

These materials were developed by MSU Extension with funding from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Food Safety Education Fund grant program.

Jump to: 

Farm to Institution Food Safety Basics Videos for Institutional Food Service Providers

The Spectrum of Produce Safety Assurance Programs

Mariel Borgman, Garrett Ziegler

This video provides an overview for institutional food service providers of the variety of food safety verification programs available to produce farms.


Produce Safety Risk Assessment

Mariel Borgman, Sarah Goodman, Abbey Palmer, Landen Tetil, Garrett Ziegler

Produce Safety Technician Landen Tetil provides an introduction to the Michigan Produce Safety Risk Assessment (PSRA). The PSRA is a voluntary, confidential and free program offered by Michigan Produce Safety Technicians working out of Michigan’s Conservation Districts. Farmer Sarah Goodman from the MSU North Farm shares how the program has benefited the farm. Find more information about the Michigan Produce Safety Risk Assessment.


USDA GAP Certification via Group GAP

Mariel Borgman, Phil Britton, Garrett Ziegler

GAP stands for "Good Agricultural Practices," which are the industry standards for safe produce production. USDA GAP certification is an audit-based program for certifying that farms are adhering to the standards. GroupGAP is not a different certification, but rather a different way for farms to become food safety certified. Phil Britton from Fresh Systems, LLC describes how the program works. The GroupGAP program in Michigan is coordinated by Fresh Systems, LLC in partnership with organizations such as MSU ExtensionMichigan Food and Farming Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. To learn more, visit


USDA GAP Audit Walkthrough

Mariel Borgman, Phil Britton, Sarah Goodman, Abbey Palmer, Garrett Ziegler

Walk through a farm with Phil Britton, a USDA GroupGAP Internal Auditor from Fresh Systems, LLC, to learn more about the audit program and what's involved on the farm side. The GroupGAP program in Michigan is coordinated by Fresh Systems, LLC in partnership with organizations such as MSU Extension, Michigan Food and Farming Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. To learn more, visit: To learn more about USDA GAP Certification, visit:


On-Farm Produce Safety Scenarios

Mariel Borgman, Micah Hutchison, Garrett Ziegler

This video can help institutional buyers who conduct their own farm visits to verify food safety practices become familiar with evaluating food safety risks on farm. It begins with a brief overview of the Michigan On-Farm Produce Safety program, which is a collaboration of MSU Extension, Michigan Produce Safety Technicians and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Then Micah Hutchison, a Michigan On-Farm Produce Safety Technician walks viewers through a number of farm scenarios and discusses potential risks to look out for when visiting a farm.


Michigan Dining Case Study

Mariel Borgman, Keith Soster, Garrett Ziegler

Michigan Dining uses the USDA GAP/GHP standard to verify their produce suppliers on-farm food safety practices. Keith Soster describes how Michigan Dining has partnered with their Environmental Health Services department to work with several farms over the years to support them in achieving GAP certification.


Marquette Food Co-op Case Study

Mariel Borgman, Sarah Monte, Alex Palzewicz, Garrett Ziegler

The Marquette Food Co-op has chosen to use the Michigan Produce Safety Risk Assessment Program to verify produce suppliers’ on-farm food safety practices. Sarah Monte, Outreach Manager for the Marquette Food Co-op details how they arrived at the decision to use that program and how they have implemented it into their vendor process. Later, the Marquette Food Co-op/U.P. Food Exchange Online Marketplace Manager Alex Palzewicz discusses her experience working with the Produce Safety Technician to implement the program.


Farm to Institution Food Safety Assurance Programs, Additional Information and Resources

On-Farm Food Safety Webinar: MFIN Virtual Network Meeting

Mariel Borgman, Garrett Ziegler, Phil Britton, Rosie Florian, Lauren Barnhardt

This Michigan Farm to Institution Network webinar provides institutions an introduction to safe produce production practices, the regulation of farms under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and the variety of programs available to provide assurance or certification of a farms' practices. 

Navigating Farm Produce Safety Programs

Mariel Borgman

With so many options for institutional buyers to verify supplier’s on-farm produce safety practices, how does an institution know exactly what they are asking for? This factsheet for institutional buyers details the produce safety verification programs available in Michigan and provides links to the standards and checklists for various audit programs.

How do institutional food service professionals know that food from their suppliers is safe?

Mariel Borgman

This brief shares the results of a short anonymous survey to institutional food service buyers in the Michigan Farm to Institution Network.

Michigan Farm Food Safety Roadmap

Mariel Borgman

This roadmap for is designed to help farms navigate the different programs and services available in Michigan.

Michigan On Farm Produce Safety Program website

The Michigan On-Farm Produce Safety Program is a collection of service providers and resources to prepare Michigan farmers who grow fresh fruits and vegetables for compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. Services from Produce Safety Technicians and MSU Extension Educators are always free, voluntary, and confidential. Michigan is the only state with a Produce Safety Technician program dedicated to providing on-farm technical education for fresh produce farmers.

USDA GAP Audit Program website

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audits are voluntary audits that verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. GAP audits verify adherence to the recommendations made in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables and industry recognized food safety practices.

Michigan GroupGAP website

GroupGAP one method for farms to get USDA GAP certified. The GroupGAP program in Michigan is coordinated by Fresh Systems, LLC in partnership with organizations such as MSU Extension, Michigan Food and Farming Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

MSU Extension Agrifood Safety website

MSU Extension’s Agrifood Safety workgroup maintains a repository of on-farm food safety training materials.


Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at