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Food Safety for Your Farm

The release of the new Food Safety Modernization Act proposed guidelines in January 2013(http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FSMA/ucm334120.htm )has many producers wondering, “How do I make my farm food safety compliant?”  While specific handling protocols are still coming from researchers at various University’s across the country, planning the transition for food safety compliance is relatively simple. The following three steps will help:

1) Develop a Food Safety manual: Manuals are the guidebook for any farm raising products for fresh consumption. This is a road map for how the farm operates, what records are maintained, product traceability, and worker safety. The book should hold procedural information on all aspects of farm operations. It should provide details simply and accurately during a third party audit or buyer inspection. Records to keep could include worker training logs, standard operating procedures, chemical and fertilizer logs, harvest and sales information, as well as logs for water tests.

2) Develop a worker training program: All farm workers should be trained on proper health and hygiene techniques, as well as how to run specialty equipment. A good set of Standard Operating Procedures will set the priorities for training, along with identifying potential needs for more specialized certifications, if applicable.

3) Follow labels directions: Every label gives information on quantities to apply, potential hazards, and re-entry periods. These are important guidelines to protect workers and the integrity of the product itself. Always consult a professional if questions arise about product use.

There are additional steps beyond planning to establish food safety compliance, but starting with these three initial points will get a farm headed in the right direction. There are resources online and from commodity groups to assist. United Fresh, Family Farmed, and individual commodity associations have online materials for developing logs, training programs, and recommendations for different practices. Your local UF/IFAS Extension Office can also provide information on upcoming nearby programs.

 

 

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Author: Allison Meharg – allisonm@ufl.edu

Allison is the 4-H/Small Farms Agent in Escambia County and currently works to educate small farm operators on starting, managing, and building a profitable farming enterprise. Her areas of expertise include specialty crop food safety, beginning farmer education, and niche livestock marketing.

Allison Meharg

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/03/06/food-safety-for-your-farm/