Food Safety A Concern For Fruit And Vegetable Farmers

Good Agricultural Practices workshops help train growers to prevent contamination of producer.

Published on: Feb 21, 2013

Ohio State University's Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team will hold grower workshops in Zanesville and Newark on March 11. The topic of both programs is preventing microbial contamination on fruit and vegetable farms, including the use of Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPs.

Speaking will be specialists from Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The times and locations:

Food Safety A Concern For Fruit And Vegetable Farmers
Food Safety A Concern For Fruit And Vegetable Farmers

1-4 p.m. in OSU University Extension's Muskingum County office, 225 Underwood St., Zanesville.

6-9 p.m. in Hopewell Hall, Room 53, on Ohio State's Newark campus, 1189 University Drive, Newark.

Participants will receive a resource workbook, paper handouts and a certificate of participation as verification for their customers that they have received GAPs training.

The workshops don't provide formal certification in GAPs, however. That instead requires a farm audit conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a third-party company.

"Not all farms are required to be GAPs-certified by a third-party audit," says Ashley Kulhanek, an OSU Extension educator in Medina County and a member of the team. "Many small farms will be exempt from federal regulations requiring audits, but customers of small farms or managers of farmers markets may have some expectations for farmers to have been trained in GAPs or to have some food safety measures in place, if not fully audited.

"GAPS training in general can benefit growers by increasing their competitiveness in the marketplace by showing their efforts to cut the risk of food-borne illness."

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."

Participants can reserve a spot in the Zanesville program by contacting mechling.1@osu.edu or 740-454-0144; and in the Newark program by contacting kneen.1@osu.edu or 740-992-6696.

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