SPOTLIGHT: Produce Safety

SPOTLIGHT: Produce Safety

Alexandra Cortes, Outreach staff
Produce Safety Program,
Minnesota Department of Agriculture

What comes to mind when you think about the risks in a farm environment?

It might be physical hazards such as those associated with certain equipment and tools. What about biological hazards such as E. coli, Salmonella, or Listeria, which can be spread between animals, people, and the environment?

Managing risks and keeping farm families, employees, and animals healthy is essential for farmers’ quality of life and sustainable farm businesses. The on-farm practices that farmers use to manage biological hazards can also go a long way in protecting another key to business sustainability off the farm – the health of a farm’s customers.

You’ve likely seen outbreaks of foodborne illness in the news headlines, many associated with fresh produce. The federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was established in an effort to prevent these outbreaks. The Produce Safety Rule (PSR) is one part of the FSMA and established for the first time, minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce.

The PSR standards address the many factors that can impact the safety of produce:

  • Worker health and hygiene
  • Management of farm animals and wildlife
  • Water management and testing
  • Use of biological soil amendments such as manure
  • Cleaning and sanitizing routines.

The specifics of these standards take a One Health approach: by instituting certain practices on the farm we can prevent foodborne illness by positively impacting the relationships between the environment, animals, and people (farmers and customers both).

In Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Produce Safety Program is responsible for implementing the Produce Safety Rule. This program includes a strong emphasis on outreach and education, along with inspections for certain produce farms. The rule means different things for different produce farms – not all are required to follow the full standards of the rule. Strong on-farm food safety practices can benefit all produce farms though, whether helping to protect people, manage liability, or to increase market access.

The Produce Safety Program and University of Minnesota Extension are hosting Produce Safety Rule Grower Trainings across Minnesota this winter. These trainings, which include farmer trainers, address the specifics of the rule along with practices that reduce risks, and practical methods to implement these practices on the farm.

 

MN FSMA Produce Safety Training Courses

Interested in produce safety to protect your business?

Learn about one-day training courses for produce growers!

 


Contact the Produce Safety Program to learn more about the trainings, general produce safety information, and specifics about what the rule means for your produce farm…

Produce Safety Program
651-539-3648
ProduceSafety.MDA@state.mn.us