Fruit, Vegetable Safety Program Set for Sept. 24 in Chillicothe

August 29, 2012

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio -- A program on preventing microbial contamination on fruit and vegetable farms will take place from 1-4 p.m. on Sept. 24 at 475 Western Ave., Room D, in Chillicothe. 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 of fruits and vegetables this year,” said Ashley Kulhanek of Ohio State University’s Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team, which is the program’s sponsor. “So it’s a good time to learn about GAPs.”

Ohio State University Extension educators and Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center staff will present the program. Participants will receive a resource workbook, paper handouts and a certificate of participation.

But Kulhanek said attendees won’t actually become “certified in GAPs” by taking the course. 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. 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, Kulhanek said.

For growers interested in participating in the voluntary Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement (www.opma.us) when it is released, this program can double as their required yearly attendance in a comprehensive GAPs class.

Reserve a spot in the program by contacting Chris Bruynis in OSU Extension’s Ross County office at 740-702-3200 or bruynis.1@osu.edu.

Registration is $10 per person, payable by cash or check, with checks made out to “OSP.” 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 Specialty Crop Program.

A similar produce safety program is scheduled for Cuyahoga County in October.

For more information, or to schedule a program in your area or for your group or market, contact Kulhanek at 330-202-3555, ext. 2918, or kulhanek.5@osu.edu.

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Source(s): 
Ashley Kulhanek