Fruit, Vegetable Safety Program Set for Cleveland Oct. 3

September 21, 2012

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A program on preventing microbial contamination on fruit and vegetable farms will take place from 6-9 p.m. on Oct. 3 at the Urban Community School, 4909 Lorain Ave., in Cleveland. 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. “So it’s a good time to learn about GAPs.” 

OSU Extension educators and Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center staff will be the speakers. Participants will receive a resource workbook, paper handouts and a certificate of participation.

Attendees won’t actually become “certified in GAPs” by taking the course, she said. That certification comes only through a farm audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a third-party company.

“Find out what your farmers market or buyers require,” Kulhanek 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.

Growers interested in participating in the voluntary Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement can find more information on the program at http://www.opma.us. The program, once released, can double as a participants’s required yearly attendance in a comprehensive GAPs class.

Contact Jacqueline Kowalski in OSU Extension’s Cuyahoga County office at 216-429-8200, ext. 217, or kowalski.124@osu.edu to reserve a spot in the program.

Registration is $10 per person, payable by cash or check, with checks made out to “Ohio State University Extension.” Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. Payment will be taken at the door. Walk-ins are welcome.

Kulhanek said the registration cost is lower than it was for similar programs last year thanks to a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Program.

She also said FDA’s draft standards have been delayed in the Office of Management and Budget and might not be released until after the November election.

For more information, go to http://www.producesafety.osu.edu.

OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

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Author(s): 
Ashley Kulhanek