Fruit and Vegetable Safety: Good Agricultural Practices Training Set for Jan. 24 in Central Ohio

December 18, 2012

MARYSVILLE, Ohio -- A program on preventing microbial contamination on fruit and vegetable farms will take place from 6-9 p.m. on Jan. 24 at the Union County office of Ohio State University Extension, 18000 State Route 4, Suite E, in Marysville. Food safety and Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPs, for fruit and vegetable production are the focus.

“The Food and Drug Administration should be releasing draft standards for safe production and harvest of fruits and vegetables as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act,” said Ashley Kulhanek of Ohio State University’s Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team, the program’s sponsor. “Whether or not a farm will be exempt from these rules, the new year is a good time to learn about GAPs.”

Kuhlanek said release of the draft standards has been delayed for nearly a year but may happen in 2013 now that the national election is over. 

The program’s instructors will be educators with OSU Extension, which is the outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Participants will receive a resource workbook, paper handouts and a certificate of participation as verification for their customers that the farm operator has received GAPs training.

But Kulhanek said attendees won’t actually become “certified in GAPs” by taking the course. That certification, she said, comes only through having one of many possible farm audits conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a third-party company.

“Find out what your farmers market or buyers require,” she said. “Some may be satisfied with just a class on GAPs, others may require the full food safety farm plan and audit, or both.”

Many large grocery chains require their produce suppliers to have full food safety plans and audits, she said.

“For small farms selling at stands and markets, learning about GAPs is a good way to stay competitive,” Kulhanek said.

Participants can reserve a spot in the workshop by contacting Amanda Douridas in OSU Extension’s Union County office, 937-644-8117, douridas.9@osu.edu. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. Walk-ins are welcome. 

Registration is $10 per person, payable by cash or check, with checks made out to “Ohio State University”

Financial support for the workshop is provided in part by a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Program, which has helped reduce the registration cost.

More information about the workshop can be found at http://www.producesafety.osu.edu.

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Author(s): 
Ashley Kulhanek