There are certain questions within our culture for which there are simply no good answers. For example, how many times have we heard the classic question, “If a tree falls in a woods and there’s no one to hear it, does it still make a sound?” One question I’ve been asked recently, for which the answer is equally elusive, is “How long must I wait to grow vegetables after applying manure to the field?” With the 2015 season quickly winding down, it will soon be time to start making plans for next year’s crops. Part of those plans will undoubtedly include the question of manure use.
While manure is a good source of plant nutrients and organic matter, it may also contain human pathogens that can be transferred onto fresh fruits and vegetables. After manure is applied to a field, the bacterial community in the manure changes as it adapts to conditions in the soil. Given all the variables involved, exactly what happens to the bacteria is anyone’s guess. Soil type, manure type, soil moisture levels, and temperature all play a role in how quickly manure degrades and the bacterial community changes. While research is starting to shed some light on the issue, the fate of human pathogens in manure applied to the soil is still poorly understood. This was noted by FDA in their latest draft of the Proposed Rule for Produce Safety. Publications supplemental to the proposed rule stated that:
“The agency is deferring its decision on an appropriate time interval [between manure application and crop harvest] until it pursues certain actions. These include conducting a risk assessment and extensive research to strengthen scientific support for any future proposal, working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other stakeholders.” (FSMA Proposed Rule for Produce Safety: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm334114.htm)
The National Organic Program specifies an interval of 120 days between the application of raw manure and harvest for crops that come in contact with the soil and an interval of 90 days for crops that do not come in contact with the soil. These serve as good general guidelines, but the intervals were not developed to assure food safety.
Remember, in addition to any general guidelines, always follow the guidance given by your particular audit protocol or food safety plan.
Those using properly composted manure may apply it at any time, taking care to avoid application to the edible parts of the plants. Those producing crops with edible parts underground may also want to avoid applying composted manure while crops are in the field. Proper composting in this context involves a high-temperature process that kills most human pathogens. The high temperatures must be documented, along with other details of the composting process. A summary of what is involved in producing compost may be found at: http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/compost-production-and-use-in-sustainable-farming-systems.pdf.
Unless you have documentation that manure was composted properly, it should be treated as nothing more than aged raw manure, and there should be an interval of several months between application and harvest of a fruit or vegetable crop.
In addition to composting, other heat and chemical treatments can reduce pathogens in manure. Often manure treated with these methods is sold commercially as a bagged or bulk product. Growers using such products should get information about the manure treatment from the supplier, and ask specifically whether the treatment is documented to kill human pathogens.
One of the best ways to utilize manure is to apply it in the fall. A fall application, followed by incorporation and a cover crop, is a good way to insure a lengthy application-to-harvest window. One additional advantage is that fall-applying manure cuts one more job from what is, for most people, an increasingly hectic spring season. For those wishing to use a fall manure application, Purdue’s Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide (ID-433, https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?Item_Number=ID-433) can provide valuable cover crop information. Purdue’s Manure Management Planner, although designed for field crops, can help with estimating nutrient content from various manures (http://www.purdue.edu/agsoftware/mmp/).
An additional option may be to simply use manure only on agronomic crops. As a whole, the Midwest is a very strong agronomic region. Corn and soybeans are still the main crops. Where possible, growers can use this to their advantage by applying manure to agronomic crops in the year before fields are rotated into vegetables. This gives an interval of a year or more and growers can still reap some benefits (increased organic matter, plant nutrients, etc.) from the manure application, with reduced risk to their vegetable crops.
If you must apply manure in the spring, avoid planting short-season crops in fields that have received an application. Long season vegetables, such as staked tomatoes, whose edible parts do not contact the ground, carry the least risk of being contaminated with a foodborne pathogen. Other options would be to grow late-season crops that normally are not consumed, such as pumpkins or gourds. Yet another option would be crops that are cooked prior to eating, such as sweet corn.
Across the state, growers have worked hard to incorporate food safety into the culture of their farms. Paying attention to how and when manure is applied is a good way to reduce the risk of a future outbreak.
Recently the USDA announced the addition of a new third-party auditing service that will be available through the Ag Marketing Service (AMS). The service, called “GroupGAP”, will be available in the spring of 2016. The expansion of the service follows multi-year piloting and testing of the program.
Under the GroupGAP program, independent farms may organize under a central entity, such as a food hub or grower cooperative, to create a food safety system. Participating farms are responsible for collectively developing food safety practices and collecting required documentation. Entities will also be responsible for providing their own internal auditing services. They will also participate in an external audit by USDA-AMS Specialty Crops Inspection Service.
Recently, I’ve gotten a few similar calls from vegetable growers. The call usually starts out with the grower saying, “My buyer tells me that I need to get a food safety certification – what is that?” I’m hoping that with this entry I can start to de-mystify the process.
The term “Food Safety Certification” can have different meanings, depending on what the buyer is requesting. My experience is that buyers frequently don’t know what they are actually asking for and are requesting action on your part due to a request or concern expressed by customers further down the marketing channel. The first recommendation I give growers when I get this type of call is to contact their buyer and find out EXACTLY what is being requested.
Industry and state and federal regulatory agencies are all a part of the produce food safety landscape. The following is a quick run-down of the role each currently plays:
Industry – In the absence of government regulation, the produce industry as a whole has moved to address food safety issues. Frequently, this means a third-party certification. Several entities have developed proprietary food safety audit protocols. Examples of protocols include PrimusGFS and GlobalGAP. The general process is that a grower selects a protocol and auditing company (sometimes the same entity), the grower writes a food safety plan and establishes a food safety program based on that protocol, and finally the grower undergoes a voluntary third-party audit to insure that the written plan is being followed. Passing the audit earns the grower a third-party food safety certification.
State Regulatory Agencies – In Indiana, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is the agency that regulates produce food safety. Their produce protection program has two requirements. First, all operations that are selling produce on a wholesale basis must register with the department. Registration involves simply filling out a form and submitting it to ISDH. This requirement has actually been in place since the 1930’s as part of the Indiana Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and really adds no new regulatory burden to growers. The second requirement is that growers who sell on a wholesale basis and register with the department must show proof of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) training. ISDH recognizes trainings such as the Purdue GAPs A-Z workshops and other introductory level trainings as meeting their requirements.
Federal Agencies – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating produce food safety. At the time of this writing, it is anticipated that FDA will soon release the final version of the Produce Rule, mandated by the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA). The rule will require certain operations to provide proof of food safety training, but will not require farms to undergo third party audits.
The USDA Ag Marketing Service does not regulate fresh produce safety, but does provide food safety audits for growers. Growers may choose from several audit protocols that USDA staff are trained to provide. Passing a food safety audit from USDA provides a grower with a third-party certification.
Given the number of groups and agencies involved in produce food safety, and the inconsistent terminology, it is easy to see where communication break-downs can occur. Also, buyers may be new to food safety and may not fully understand what they are requesting. That’s why it is critical that growers ask buyers to spell out exactly what they are requesting. If the buyer wants a third-party certification, the next step is to find out what protocol(s) the buyer will accept. Each buyer has specific audit protocols that are preferred or accepted. For instance, one buyer may only accept an audit benchmarked by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Another may accept a USDA Harmonized GAPs Audit. Find out what your buyer will accept before you start spending time and money to implement a specific program.
If the buyer is simply needing proof of GAPs training, any recognized introductory training will do. Participants who complete an introductory GAPs training course are generally given a certificate of attendance or a certificate of completion. Receiving a certificate of attendance is not the same as being third-party certified!
A buyer using the term “certification,” may also be asking for proof that one has registered with ISDH.
While incredibly important, produce food safety comes with a price. Preparing for and passing an audit to obtain third-party certification can be very costly. GAPs training may also come with an expense. Consequently, clear communication is essential in order to understand exactly what is required. Asking the right questions of buyers will help to avoid situations where excess time and money are spent to fulfill the wrong expectations.
By J. Scott Monroe, Food Safety Educator, Purdue Extension
Purdue University and the Illiana Watermelon Association (IWA) are offering food safety audit cost-share programs to Indiana fruit and vegetable growers this year. Funds for the programs come from a grant from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture through the USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant Program. Through the Purdue program, Indiana fruit and vegetable growers who receive passing scores on their third party food safety audits are eligible for reimbursement of 40% of their audit cost, up to a maximum of $400 per farm. Through the Illiana Watermelon Association program IWA members may receive reimbursement for 75% of an audit cost (up to $1,500) if a preferred audit-provider is used, or 60% (up to $1,200) if a non-preferred provider is used. Producers of any fruit or vegetable wishing to take advantage of the IWA program may join the IWA.
To apply for cost-sharing, complete and return the appropriate application by July 1. The Purdue application may be down-loaded from https://ag.purdue.edu/hla/foodsafety/documents/PurdueFoodSafetyCostshareConsultApp.pdf, or filled out online at http://tinyurl.com/audit-cost-share. The IWA application is available at http://www.illianawatermelon.org/Documents/2015/Audit%20reimb%20application.pdf. Producers may receive reimbursement from only one of the programs. To receive reimbursement, documentation of audit results and cost must be submitted to Purdue or IWA after the audit is complete.
The program also provides the opportunity for growers to have a walk-through of their farm with a private food safety consultant contracted by Purdue. The private food safety consultant may also address specific farm and packinghouse food safety questions and issues. This opportunity is open to any grower, whether or not they participate in either audit cost-share program. To request a consultant visit, use the application for the Purdue cost-share program and return by July 1.
For more information, contact Scott Monroe at 812- 886-0198 (office) or 765-427-9910 (cell).
J. Scott Monroe - Food Safety Educator, Purdue Extension
Jennifer Stefancik - Extension Educator-HHS, Purdue Extension Daviess County
Karel Kirschner - Extension Educator-HHS, Purdue Extension Knox County
Summer has once again returned to the area. With the weather continuing to warm up, gardens will soon be bursting forth with nature’s bounty. As we all enjoy fresh produce from the garden and work to preserve food for the winter that we know will return, it is important to manage produce in such a way that we don’t create opportunities for the introduction of foodborne pathogens. Following a few simple steps can reduce the risk of microbial contamination.
In the garden, care should be taken to minimize the presence of both wild and domestic animals. Dogs, deer, and other wildlife can introduce foodborne pathogens. It is also a good idea for everyone to wash their hands before picking or otherwise handling produce. Placing harvested produce into clean containers (ideally cleaned before each harvest) can also reduce contamination risk. Gardeners should have one or two containers that they keep clean and use exclusively for holding harvested produce. Irrigating from a clean water source (such as a municipal system or well) is a good way to reduce the risk of contamination.
Whether items are from the garden or the local produce stands or farmer’s markets, fresh produce should be preserved as quickly as possible. The time to start thinking about preserving produce is prior to harvest. Start by checking your equipment and supplies. Proper equipment in good condition is required for safe, high quality home canned food. A pressure canner is essential for canning low-acid vegetables (pH less than 4.6), meats, fish, and poultry. Two basic types are available. One has a dial gauge to indicate the pressure inside the canner; the other has a metal weighted gauge. Dial gauges must be tested for accuracy before each canning season. For information on testing a dial gauge, call your county Extension Office. Check the rubber gasket if your canner has one; it should be flexible and soft, not brittle, sticky or cracked. Also make sure any small pipes or vent ports with openings are clean and open all the way through.
A boiling water canner is needed for canning other foods such as fruits, pickles, jellies and jams. The canner should be deep enough to allow at least one to two inches of water to boil over the tops of the jars. Both types of canners should have a rack in the bottom to keep jars off the bottom of the canner. Inventory your jars and decide if you need to buy new jars this year. Inspect those you have for nicks, cracks or chips, especially around the top sealing edge. Nicks can prevent lids from sealing. Very old jars can weaken with age and repeated use, causing them to break under pressure and heat. Consider investing in new jars if you need to, and watch for specials at the stores. New jars are a better investment over time than buying used jars at yard sales or flea markets. Mason-type jars specifically designed for home canning are best. Jars that use two-piece self-sealing metal lids are the recommended container in USDA guidelines. A "must" every canning season is new flat lids. Used lids should be thrown away. The screw bands are re-usable if they are not bent, dented or rusted.
A final must is reliable, up-to-date canning instructions. Publications and information are available at your county Extension Office, or the National Center for Home Food
Preservation website (http://nchfp.uga.edu/
). The most recently revised edition of the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning is dated 2009; all recommendations in this book are current. To order, visit the Purdue University Education Store (https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/
). The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service also sells "So Easy to Preserve", a comprehensive book with information on all types of home food preservation. The order form for the book can be printed from (www.soeasytopreserve.com
) . Directions for payment and mailing or faxing orders are on that order form.
Be sure to look at the instructions for what you want to preserve well before you are ready to prepare the food. You may need time to purchase some ingredients and small pieces of equipment that are necessary to prepare the food exactly as the directions indicate. For example, there are a few products listed in the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning (starches) that are only available through mail order for most locations. Planning ahead can save you time, money, and frustration with home canning. Make it a happy, successful canning season by getting prepared.
This summer, Purdue Extension will be offering Hands-On workshops for making Jams and Jellies (May 21), Salsa (July 30), and Vegetables (Aug 20). Contact Jennifer Stefancik at email@example.com
or Karel Kirschner at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information. Cost is $10 per class and class size is limited!
By Scott Monroe, Food Safety Educator, Purdue Extension
One of the hottest topics in the produce world in recent years has been food safety. Outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with fresh produce, the Food Safety and Modernization Act, and consumer expectations have all encouraged growers to become familiar with Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). These are the accepted practices that produce growers use to reduce the risk of contamination by a foodborne pathogen.
Many people grow and consume produce from their home gardens. When products are consumed at home, growers are free to do whatever they want. However, when we start to introduce produce into the public food supply, be it at the farmers market, through a CSA, or through a wholesale distributor, we accept an increased level responsibility for our products. Fortunately, the majority of GAPs boil down to good old-fashioned common sense backed up by scientific research. Regardless of farm size or products, guarding the public (and our own) food supply against accidental contamination by a foodborne pathogen comes down to four areas of focus.
1. Water – We use water for multiple activities in agriculture. When using water for irrigation, make sure the water comes from a reliable source. Those using surface water (such as ponds or creeks) for irrigation should have their water tested. Use only potable, or drinking, water for postharvest operations such as washing produce.
2. Animal Products – Farmers have used manure for centuries as a source of plant nutrients. However, manure can also contain pathogens. If using manure, a window of 90-120 days is recommended between application and harvest of crops. Always incorporate manure if possible. The best strategy is to fall-apply manure, incorporate, and sow a cover crop to prevent soil loss. Watch for accidental applications. Remember that the two-year old running around the garden in a cloth diaper presents as great a risk for contamination as a loaded honey wagon!
3. Workers – Regardless of whether you are employing 500 workers in multiple fields or using the garden as a “life-learning experience” for your kids, the principle is the same; make sure the workers are healthy. Sick workers should not be around or handle produce. Workers should also be trained to cover any cuts or scrapes and to wash their hands before entering fields or gardens to tend plants or harvest.
4. Wild and Domestic Animals – Unless you are using them for pulling implements, animals should not be allowed in production areas. We can’t keep all wildlife out of the fields and gardens. However, we can monitor for excessive activity and manage when populations get too large. Pets and other domestic animals should not be allowed in production areas. I’ve seen some of the things dogs like to roll in. I’m not sure I want that brushing up against my tomatoes!
By taking a common-sense approach to food safety, and focusing on these four areas, we can reduce the risk of accidentally introducing pathogens into our own, or someone else’s, food supply and do our part to maintain the reputation of the produce grown in our region.
By Nick Rogers, Internal Communications Coordinator, Purdue Extension
The sixth generation in his family to work with produce, Scott Monroe grew up on a southwest Indiana watermelon farm. So it seems only natural that his Purdue Extension career would lead to his latest appointment as Purdue Extension Food Safety Educator, which became effective January 1.
“Produce is a multimillion-dollar industry in Indiana, and I want to do what I can to help growers navigate food-safety challenges, and maintain or bolster this industry,” Monroe says. “Obviously, we want to also keep people from getting sick. I don’t know any farmer who finishes that second cup of coffee, goes outside, stretches real big and says, ‘What a great day to make someone sick.’ ”
Formerly a Daviess County ANR Educator, Monroe now works out of the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center near Vincennes. This area of Indiana is home to a majority of the state’s produce crops. However, Monroe’s appointment spans all 92 counties to assist a diverse collection of growers — from small family operations who run roadside stands to large companies shipping produce cross-country.
Produce food safety has been a hot topic in recent years. In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act shifted the federal focus of regulation from responding to outbreaks of foodborne illness to preventing them. There have also been heavily publicized outbreaks of Listeria in cantaloupe and, hitting closer to home, an outbreak of Salmonella traced to a cantaloupe farm in southern Indiana.
“The food safety issue can be complicated, so my main goal is to be a point of first connection for produce growers who have issues or questions concerning good agricultural practices and food safety,” Monroe says. “I can also facilitate help with questions about other agricultural products, and I plan to help catalyze applied research efforts in food safety.”
Although Monroe only has a few weeks under his belt, he has plenty of appearances planned (including a presentation for the upcoming 3rd Annual Indiana Small Farm Conference on writing food safety plans), hands-on activities for when the weather improves, and prior experience in the field.
Monroe’s work in this area started in 2009 when he attended a workshop, hosted by the University of Illinois Extension, about important food safety issues coming down the pike. He and Extension Specialist Liz Maynard brought the information home and used it to form an Issue-Based Action Team around the issue, including Educators, Specialists, and regulatory and industry personnel as part of the team. Together, the team developed an introductory Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) workshop that nearly 1,000 statewide participants have attended and that is recognized by the Indiana State Department of Health as meetings its requirements for produce food safety training. Prior to his formal appointment, Monroe spent the 2013 and 2014 growing seasons working directly with Indiana produce growers, with emphasis on the cantaloupe and watermelon industries in Indiana.
“What led me to this was really the opportunity to contribute to the industry in a way that helps Indiana farmers and increases the safety factors of their food as a result,” Monroe says.
By J. Scott Monroe, Food Safety Educator, Purdue Extension
Several years ago I was working for one of our local watermelon producers. The harvest was in full swing and the pace around the farm was hectic, bordering on manic. In the midst of the craziness, I was handed a folder by the boss. It contained information about a company that he had been working with in California. His hope was to sell them watermelons for processing, but he had run headlong into the company’s internal produce food safety program. Apparently, in order for us to sell them our melons, we needed to fill out a food safety questionnaire, engage in something called Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), and go through an audit by the company’s food safety inspector.
Thus began my leap into the world of produce food safety. Having grown up on a produce farm, and being a sixth-generation melon person, I was quite skeptical of the whole process. However, being a dutiful employee, I took the boss’s file, reviewed it, and started a new file on my computer. I won’t tell you what I named it, but it rhymed with “GAP”. Who knew that a dozen years later, I would be employed by Purdue Extension to work in the area of produce food safety across the state?
As I work with produce growers, many of them approach the food safety issue with the same skepticism that I had that day on the farm. Many lament the additional work generated by a food safety program, stating that they’ve never personally made anyone sick and are too busy to have additional responsibilities laid upon them. Behind most of the comments, however, is the same basic question; does this really matter and, if so, then why? To answer those questions, I’ve put together a list of the top three reasons why I think food safety matters and should be a concern for ALL produce growers:
1. Product quality – Coming from a farm background, and having been around produce growers my entire life, I have yet to meet any farmer that begins his day by finishing that second cup of coffee, stretching, looking out over the fields, and declaring, “What a great day to make someone sick”. It just doesn’t happen. However, looking at CDC data, one sees that many of the foodborne pathogens that have traditionally associated with other agricultural commodities (Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli) are showing up with increasing frequency in produce. We can debate where it’s coming from until we’re blue in the face. However, the fact remains that if we, as growers, wish to continue to produce a quality product that meets consumer expectations, then we need to be aware of this issue and do everything we can to prevent something from accidently getting into our products.
2. Consumer and buyer expectations – Consumers expect a relatively safe food supply. Having worked overseas in areas where one is warned not to eat anything raw as soon as they get off the plane, I’ve come to realize that the mere fact that consumers have the option of eating fresh produce in this country means that growers are doing a lot of things right. Due to food safety issues, fresh produce is not an option enjoyed by consumers worldwide. That being said, in this country, consumers’ expectations of a safe food supply are increasing. These expectations are being expressed through produce buyers, many of whom now require third-party certifications prior to purchasing large quantities of produce from growers.
3. Liability – The Food Safety and Modernization Act was passed in 2011. Fruit and vegetable growers are currently waiting for FDA to publish the final version of the Produce Rule under this act. Contained within the Act are exemptions for small farms that sell direct to local consumers, grocery stores, and restaurants. The language is frequently referred to as the Tester Amendment. This language has given rise to much debate as to who should fall under the Act and who should not. In practical terms, it really doesn’t matter whether a produce grower is exempt from regulations or not. If an outbreak of foodborne illness is traced to a specific farm, then the implicated grower will face the same liability as any other grower, regardless of size. Should an outbreak of foodborne illness be traced back to a specific farm, an active and aggressive food safety program will help to demonstrate that the grower was acting in good faith.
Whether you grow fruits and vegetables commercially and send produce out by the truckload or simply plant a little extra in the garden for the farmers’ market, produce food safety is an issue that will continue to affect all growers. Please feel free to contact me or the Purdue Extension Educator in your county if you would like information on how to get started with produce food safety and GAPs.
Scott Monroe is a food safety educator with Purdue Extension at the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center and can be reached at 812-886-0198.
Looking for GAPs A to Z Training that meets Indiana State Dept. of Health (ISDH) expectations for training for wholesale produce growers?
The session at Indiana Horticultural Congress, Tuesday, January 20, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. "Food Safety Focus on Cantaloupe" will meet this requirement!
There will be information relevant for all fruits and veggies, not just cantaloupe.
If you register for the Indiana Hort Congress there is no additional charge to attend this session.
Preregistration for the IHC is closed, but you may register in on-site. See www.inhortcongress.org for more information.
The online version of GAPs A to Z training will be introduced in a separate session on Tuesday evening, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. This online course also meets the requirements of ISDH. There is a charge to take the online course that must be paid by credit or debit card when you sign up for the course at distance.purdue.edu/gaps. In Tuseday's evening session we will demonstrate how to sign up and navigate the online course. Participants can start taking the course on their own computer, and complete it at a later date.
Whether you've taken basic GAPs training or not, don't forget to check out the Food Safety Update Session on Tuesday morning:
Indiana Horticultural Congress
Wyndham Indianapolis West
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
9:30 a.m. Federal Food Safety Regulations for Farm and Packinghouses: Where are
Manpreet Singh, Purdue University, Dept. of Food Science
10:00 What’s New with the Indiana State Produce Safety Initiative
Jennifer Coleman and Joanna Beck, Indiana State Dept. of Health
10:45 New and Remodeled Packing Houses for Food Safety: How We Did It
Mike Garwood, Garwood Orchards
William Harriman, William Harriman Farms
Scott Monroe, Purdue Extension
11:30 Fresh Produce Safety Research in the NC Tomato Production Environment
Chris Gunter, North Carolina State University, Dept. of Horticulture
FAQs about GAPs A to Z Training and ISDH Expectations
Q. I took GAPS A to Z previously and have a certificate of attendance. Is it necessary to attend again or renew?
A. No. At this time ISDH only asks that food safety training has been obtained.
Q. This is the first I've heard of any requirement. What's the deal?
A. ISDH began the Farm Produce Safety Initiative a few years ago. As part of the initiative, farmers who wholesale produce that is likely to be eaten raw are asked to register and get trained in on-farm food safety practices.
For full information check out the ISDH Produce Safey Initiative Site at www.in.gov/isdh/25773.htm, and see the fact sheet for producers at www.in.gov/isdh/files/Produce_Grower_Registration_Fact_Sheet(1).pdf, and the registration form at forms.in.gov/Download.aspx?id=10956
Looking forward to seeing people at the Indiana Hort Congress!
Looking for a GAPs course? Purdue's Good Agricultural Practices A to Z training is available as an online course.
Individuals may take the course from their own broad-band connected computer.
The course meets current requirements of the Indiana State Department of Health for training in Good Agricultural Practices that is required of fruit and vegetable producers who sell fresh produce to groceries, restaurants, institutions, and other buyers who are not the end consumer. Individuals who take the course and complete online assessments successfully will receive a certificate to document that they have taken the course. The cost of the course is $30. Individuals may register for the course at www.distance.purdue.edu/gaps.
This course is based on GAPs A to Z workshops Purdue has offered around the state and in webinars over the last three years. Course participants view recorded presentations about health and hygiene, water, animals and animal products, sanitation on the farm, documentation and recordkeeping, and farm food safety plans. In order to receive a course certificate, participants must answer assessment questions at the end of each topic and get at least 90% correct. Participants can watch presentations and retake assessments as many times as necessary. Access to course materials expires after three months. If the course isn’t completed within three months of registration, participants will have to reregister and repay for the course.
For more information about the online course, contact Scott Monroe at email@example.com.
For more information about the ISDH registration and training requirement for wholesale fruit and vegetable producers, visit http://www.in.gov/isdh/25773.htm or contact an ISDH Farm Food Safety Consultant at 317-234-8569.