A Review of Existing Scientific Literature and Current Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Guidelines for Composting in Vegetable Production

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Current research has yielded new scientific evidence to suggest that Good Agriculture Practices recommendations for composted soil amendments may not be adequate to control foodborne illness microorganisms. A review of composting methods, the science of composting, current scientific information and known composting endpoints have yielded a large amount of information showing that current recommendations are not up to date with information that is known by extension specialists, large scale compost facilities and researchers. Composting recommendations can be greatly improved to help lower the potential number of foodborne illnesses linked to organic produce. Areas which potentially could be improved include; the temperature at which microorganism complete kill occurs, the amount of time that one should wait before harvesting a vegetable that was amended with a compost or manure, incorporation of manure directly into the ground, and the impact that cold temperatures can have on the composting process in relation to pathogen control.



good agricultural practices, food safety, composting, pathogen control