Friday, August 26, 2011

Extension Hosts Tier-1 Fresh Produce Safety Training for Growers August 30, 2011

Jefferson, N.C. – N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family is a new N.C. Cooperative Extension program developed to educate fruit and vegetable growers about measures to minimize food safety risks. The training focuses on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and what it takes to obtain GAPs certification.

Agents of the Ashe and Watauga Cooperative Extension Centers, and the NC Fresh Produce Food Safety Task Force, will conduct the Tier 1 N.C. MarketReady training workshop at the Ashe County Cooperative Extension Center on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 from 10 AM to 6 PM. Tier 1 will address GAPs that are directly related to field production and harvest. The training will include an introduction to common food-borne pathogens and diseases as well as recognizing points of potential contamination, proper use of biosolids as a nutrient source, effective hand-washing procedures, packing facility cleanliness and verifying water quality for field application and postharvest handling. The cost for the course is $10 per person, and includes a resource notebook and a catered lunch. Pre-registration is required, and can be done by calling the Ashe County Cooperative Center at 336-846-5850.

Anyone involved in handling fresh produce, from farmers and field hands to packing house employees and truckers will benefit from the training by learning to identify and prevent contact between sources of contamination and fresh produce.

GAPs certification requires establishing a food safety plan and passing a third-party audit that assesses the strength of the food safety plan and ensures that it is properly implemented. Currently, GAPs certification is voluntary for North Carolina farmers, though outbreaks of food-borne illness in other parts of the country have resulted in increased pressure for all farmers to become certified. All farmers residing in Alleghany, Ashe, or Watauga Counties who complete both a Tier 1 and Tier 2 training (to be offered in Boone, NC on September 27, 2011) will be entered into a drawing for one of 10 awards of $500 that can be used toward GAP certification expenses or related equipment.

The development of the N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family curriculum was funded with grants from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and USDA Risk Management Agency.  N.C. Cooperative Extension faculty developed the curriculum as part of the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Task Force. For more information contact Richard Boylan, Area Extension Agent for Agriculture at 336-846-5850 or 828-264-3061, Learn more at
N.C. Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University. It has programs in all 100 counties and the Cherokee Reservation. Learn more at This course is co-sponsored by the Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant through the Appalachian District Health Department and US Department of Health and Human Services.

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