AUBURN, Ala.–The Alabama Cooperative Extension System will conduct Produce Safety Alliance Training for fruit and vegetable growers. The training will focus on produce safety and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. The PSA Grower Training course satisfies the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirement.
The new Produce Safety Rule means safer produce for customers. Produce (fruits-nuts, fungi vegetables, leafy vegetables, root vegetables, sprout vegetables and vine-stalk vegetables) are the number one cause of foodborne illness in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It accounts for almost half of all foodborne illness.
Complying with Produce Safety Rule Makes Good Business Sense
“The Produce Safety Rule requires your farm to have at least one supervisor or responsible party attend Produce Safety Alliance training by the compliance date. Also, your farm will be subject to inspection by the FDA or the Department of Agriculture and Industries,” says Janet Johnson, an Alabama Extension regional agent in food safety and quality.
The Produce Safety Rule is part of FSMA which was passed into law in 2011. This regulation focuses on setting the first-ever federal regulatory standards for the production, harvest and handling of fruits and vegetables, in an effort to prevent microbial contamination and reduce foodborne illnesses associated with fresh produce.
What it Means for Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Producers
Under the new rule, growers of fruits and vegetables will be subject to inspection by the FDA or the ADAI. To meet the standards, farmers must complete a one-day Produce Safety training course covering the regulation as well as how to meet the food safety standards set by the regulation.
Auburn University and Alabama Extension are working with ADAI to train farmers to meet the requirements. Extension will offer the one-day training free of charge throughout the state beginning in September.
“We will give growers the documents they will need on a jump drive and in paper form to develop a food safety plan,” said Dr. Jean Weese, professor of Food Science and Food Safety Extension specialist.
The trainings are scheduled for Sept. 28 in Clanton, Nov. 1 in Dothan and Nov. 7 in Oneonta. Trainings will cover the following areas:
- Introduction to produce safety
- Worker health, hygiene and training
- Biological soil amendments (e.g. compost, manure)
- Domesticated and wild animals and land use
- Agricultural water (production water and postharvest water, equipment, tools, building and sanitation)
- Post harvest handling and sanitation
- How to develop a farm food safety plan
Producers who have more than $500,000 in food sales on their farm must comply by Jan. 26, 2018; less than $500,000 but more than $250,000, must comply by Jan. 26, 2019; and between $25,000 and $250,000 must comply by Jan. 26, 2020.
The training on Sept. 28 is set from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Alabama Power Bldg., 2030 7th Street S. Lunch will be provided. To register, contact Gay West at (205)280-6268 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nov. 1 training will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Farm Center Building, 1699 Ross Clark Circle, Suite 4, Dothan, Ala. Lunch will be provided. Contact Charlotte Countryman at email@example.com or call 334-693-2363 to register.
The Nov. 7 training is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Frank J. Green Building, 415 Fifth Ave. East, Suite A, in Oneonta. Lunch will be provided. To register, contact Dan Porch at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (205)274-2129.
Featured image by Ioana Davies(Drutu)/Shutterstock.com