Note: A previous version of this story listed a higher registration fee. Due to the increased interest in this program, the registration fee has been reduced to $10.
WOOSTER, Ohio — Produce Safety Education programs for farmers have been scheduled for March 20 in Clayton and April 11 in Piketon, both in southern Ohio.
The topic: Using Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPS, to prevent microbial contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables — especially important with new Food and Drug Administration standards due later this year.
In Clayton, the program goes from 6-9 p.m. at Northmont High School, 4916 National Road; in Piketon, from 1-4 p.m. at Ohio State University’s Endeavor Center, 1862 Shyville Road.
Registration costs $10 per person and is paid at the door by cash or check, with checks made payable to “OSP.”
The program is sponsored and taught by Ohio State’s Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team, whose members come from Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.
Participants will receive a resource workbook, paper handouts and a certificate of participation but won’t actually become certified in GAPS by taking the course, said Ashley Kulhanek, the team’s education associate. That certification comes only through a farm audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a third-party company, she said.
“The program can help prepare you for an audit,” she said, “but find out if your customers are asking for education in GAPs or if they actually want an audit certificate, or both.”
The program can serve as the required yearly attendance in a comprehensive GAPS class for anyone participating in the Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement.
To reserve a spot in the Clayton program, contact Suzanne Mills-Wasniak, 937-224-9654, firstname.lastname@example.org. For Piketon, contact Kulhanek, 330-202-3555, ext. 2918. Walk-ins are welcome as space allows.
The registration cost is lower than it was for similar programs last year, Kulhanek said, thanks to a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
For more information, call 330-202-3555, ext. 2918, or go to http://www.producesafety.osu.edu/.
OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
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Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.