Authors as Published

Laura Siegle, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent, Amelia County, Virginia Cooperative Extension; and Holly Scoggins, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, School of Environmental and Plant Sciences, Virginia Tech; and Amber Vallotton, Fresh Produce Food Safety Team Coordinator, School of Environmental and Plant Sciences, Virginia Tech

Virginia Cooperative Extension strongly recommends that all hop growers develop an on-farm food safety plan. Hops are a food product! A good food safety plan will ensure that you assess risks at pre-plant, production, harvest, and post-harvest stages; monitor practices to mitigate those risks; take corrective actions when practices are not effective at mitigating risks or something unexpected occurs; and keep good records of your practices. This plan should include basic, common-sense approaches to fresh or "wet" hops quality and safety.

For optimal fresh hops quality and safety:

1. Comply with all pesticide selection, use, and recordkeeping regulations.

2. Workers and volunteers must wash hands prior to picking and handling hops.

3. Handle hops in a clean environment: no animals, fuel, food, glass, etc.

4. Hold harvested bines and picked hops in shade; move picked hops immediately to a cool environment to remove field heat and slow the degradation of chemical compounds.

5. Deliver wet hops as soon as possible; immediate delivery is ideal, and growers report greatest buyer satisfaction and least loss of quality when hops are delivered within 24 hours of harvest.

Again, this is a bare-minimum checklist for handling fresh hops. Buyers and brewers may want assurance that your hops were produced and handled in accordance with industry safety and quality standards. In order to provide this assurance to brewers, consider participating in an industry GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) program.

For a hops-specific resource, utilize the food safety “Best Practices" Module program from USA Hops, designed especially for smaller growers. Completion of the self-certification program (Module 1) will equip you with a food safety checklist of practices for providing a safe, high-quality product to the brewer, under the umbrella of a reputable industry program.

You may also find it useful to share your completion certificate with brewers and buyers seeking information about the safety of your product. Because industry leaders strongly believe that all growers, large and small, should follow practices for providing a safe, reputable product, the Food Safety/Harvest Practices documents from the module are available free of charge online even if you choose not to seek a completion certificate under this particular program. Visit for more information.

Important: our list of hop handling suggestions and/or the USA Hops program are NOT replacements for any applicable state and local food laws or the Food Safety Modernization Act.

For additional resources, visit

You can also learn more on the Virginia Fresh Produce Food Safety page at

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law.

Publication Date

June 29, 2018