If you're producing fresh fruits and vegetables to be marketed to consumers, you now must be in step with new production and post-harvest handling safety rules called Good Agricultural Practices. Now, it's a little easier, thanks to a new website launched by Cornell University and the national Produce Safety Alliance.
On Friday, the Produce Safety Alliance announced the official launch of its new website, www.producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu, And, it issued a call for farmers, researchers, state officials, produce industry experts and others interested in produce safety to join one of 10 working committees. They'll help develop GAP curriculum aimed at boosting understanding and implementing fresh fruit and vegetable food safety practices.
The website is housed at Cornell University's National Good Agricultural Practices Program, and is funded by USDA and the Food and Drug Administration. "It's a key information and outreach vehicle," says Betsy Bihn, Cornell Extension food scientist and project director for the Alliance.
From this site, you can link to GAP materials from Penn State, Rutgers and nine other land grant schools across the country.
Farmer input needed
"There is no more fundamental function of government than protecting consumers from harm, which is why food safety is one of USDA's top priorities," notes USDA Deputy Ag Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.
"The Alliance has set an ambitious agenda," adds Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods. "Tapping into the expertise and experience of farmers, researchers, and food safety professionals for these working committees will be key to its success."
The foundation for future GAP educational materials will be laid at a June conference. To view a complete list of working committees and details on the scope of work of each committee, visit http://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/working.html.