Ready or not, the time is coming when most producers of consumer foods will have to pass a third-party food safety audit. That's why state and Extension programs across the Northeast are gearing up educational efforts to help.
Penn State Extension and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will host three mock farm food safety audits during August and early September to promote fresh produce safety. The events, to be held on working farms, are designed to help small-scale produce growers better understand what to expect from a third-party audit of Good Agricultural Practices, says Luke LaBorde, food scientist at Penn State.
The first will be held in Berks County; the next two will be in Lancaster County. All producers are welcome.
"Participants will experience a walk-through tour with a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture inspector to review the types of things an auditor looks for," explains LaBorde. "The tour will examine several areas: documentation, water sources, employee policies, behaviors and conditions that increase contamination risks, use and storage of chemicals, and harvest operations."
When and where
- Aug. 10: 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Weaver's Meadow View Farm, 371 Bowers Road, Kutztown.
- Aug. 14: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Nelson Nolt Farm, 35 Brethren Church Road, Leola.
- Sept. 6: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Moses B. Sensenig Farm, 1255 Weaverland Road, East Earl.
The Berks County event at Weaver's Meadow View Farm will include a no-till vegetable production field walk to review a tomato trial in partnership with Rodale Institute. The trial has been set up to study the viability and implementation of no-till, vegetable-production systems.
The field walk also will showcase new rolled, cover crop vegetable-production techniques being evaluated alongside of black plastic production.
"This is an opportunity to learn from one another as we explore ways to improve food production and safety at the farm level," LaBorde notes. A question-and-answer session follows each workshop, along with a light snack.