Food safety meeting for fruits and vegetables Oct. 3

A program focused on food safety and Good Agricultural Practices to prevent microbial contamination on fruit and vegetable farms will take place Oct. 3 in Cleveland.

The Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Educational Course will run 6-9 p.m. at the Urban Community School, 4909 Lorain Ave. Speakers will be Ohio State University Extension educators and Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center Staff.

“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 of Ohio State University’s Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team, the program’s sponsor.

Even though those standards have been delayed in the Office of Management and Budget and might not be released until after the November election, Kulhanek said now is a good time to learn about GAPs.

Attendees won’t actually become certified in GAPs by taking the course, but will learn more about the program. Certification requires a farm audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a third-party company.

Many produce buyers require some form of GAPs certification or education.

“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.

Ohio also has a voluntary Produce Marketing Agreement program that can double as a participant’s yearly attendance in a comprehensive GAPs class. More information about the OPMA is available at http://www.opma.us

Registration for the Oct. 3 GAPs Educational Course is $10 per person, payable by cash or check, with checks made out to Ohio State University Extension. Participants will receive a resource workbook, paper handouts and a certificate of participation.

For more information about the course or to preregister contact Jacqueline Kowalski in OSU Extension’s Cuyahoga County office at 216-429-8200, ext. 217, or kowalski.124@osu.edu . More information also is available at http://www.producesafety.osu.edu

Preregistration is encouraged but not required.

Program costs have been partially funded by a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Program.

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