Post-Harvest Handling Assessment Tool
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Section: GACP-GMP Individual Assessment Tools

Post-harvest activities are critical to ensuring the botanical material meets appropriate quality specifications

Published: Tuesday, May 25, 2021

This form is for use in conjunction with Section 7 Post-Harvest Handling. Supporting information for specific elements can be attached to this form.

Post-harvest activities are critical to ensuring the botanical material meets appropriate quality specifications. Temporary storage, sorting and inspection, washing and cleaning, and dehydration are steps commonly applied to the harvested material; these require proper attention in order to prevent degradation and contamination.

This section recommends basic practices to be used on farms of all types; it does not include any specialized requirements established in 21 CFR 112 for covered produce farms.

In most cases, these activities when applied to food crops on a farm are regulated by FDA as farm activities, rather than food processing activities; however, in some cases FDA may consider certain routine farm activities to be food processing subject to food GMPs. For certain materials, additional steps are required to separate the target plant part. Many harvested materials, especially roots, need to be washed after harvest to remove dirt and soil. Cleaning is also needed to remove any foreign matter that may have been inadvertently mixed in with the harvest.

Many of the plants that are grown or collected for use in food must be properly dried prior to use, and drying of plant materials is often performed by the same individuals and companies that harvest the plants. Drying conditions can either preserve or degrade naturally occurring botanical constituents and can greatly affect the quality of the material. Insufficient drying can result in microbial or mold growth, while either insufficient or excessive drying can result in degradation of organoleptic characteristics and botanical constituents. Adherence to proper dehydration conditions is therefore essential when drying is performed.

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