Produce Safety Workshop Is Nov. 14 in Northeast Ohio

October 16, 2012

CANFIELD, Ohio -- Ohio State University’s Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team will hold a workshop on preventing microbial contamination on fruit and vegetable farms on Nov. 14. Food safety and Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPs, are the focus. 

The program goes from 1-4 p.m. at Ohio State University Extension’s Mahoning County office, 490 S. Broad St., in Canfield.

“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, the team’s coordinator. “So it’s a good time to learn about GAPs.” 

Leading the workshop will be OSU Extension educators and Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center staff. 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, Kulhanek 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.

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

Contact Eric Barrett in OSU Extension’s Mahoning County office at 330-533-5538 or barrett.90@osu.edu to reserve a spot in the workshop.

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 growers participating in the voluntary Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement, the workshop may qualify as a participant’s required yearly attendance in a comprehensive GAPs class. Further details about the agreement are at http://www.opma.us.

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