Food safety begins with sound practices on the farm, especially with fresh vegetable and fruit produce that is eaten raw.
Recent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses involving both fresh and processed food products have heightened public concern about food safety. More consumers want to know how their food is grown and many fresh produce buyers now require their suppliers to have third party audits to verify safe food production and handling practices on the farm.
Preventing and controlling the contamination of fresh farm produce is the key to producing wholesome, healthy products. University of Illinois Extension will be hosting a Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) webinar series.
The GAPs program will help growers to develop and implement farm food safety plans and prepare them for GAPs certification, allowing them to market their products with greater confidence. Anyone who sells produce at local markets or donates to food pantries, including farmers, farmers' market coordinators, community/market garden coordinators, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and gardeners can learn how to keep produce safe from production to the market.
Topics will include:
- What is GAPs? What are worker health and hygiene concerns?
- Water quality and testing; soil management and soil amendments.
- Post-harvest produce handling.
- Record-keeping; Trace-back; Recalls; What happens during an audit?
The webinar series will be held Thursdays from April 26, 2012 to May 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. You may attend the webinars from your home. You will need to have a computer with high-speed Internet access and a way to listen to the presentation via your computer (headsets are best, but speakers will work). Each registered participant will be sent webinar instructions, handouts, and a GAPs manual prior to the first webinar.
The registration fee is $30 per participant. Pre-registration along with pre-payment is required by April 20, 2012. Please register on our website: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/gkw. For more information contact University of Illinois Extension, Kankakee County at 815-933-8337.