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United, University of Georgia to offer produce safety workshop

The United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association (United) and the University of Georgia (UGA) Food Science Extension Outreach Program have again partnered to co-host a fresh produce industry food safety workshop.

Co-sponsored by the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Association and the Southeastern Produce Council, the program, “Developing and Implementing GAPs & GMPs & Biosecurity Plans for HACCP-Based Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry,” will take place Feb. 14-16, 2006, at UGA’s new Extension Food Science Training Facility in Athens, Ga.

Designed to teach produce professionals safe farming and handling practices, the expanded three-day program will feature expert-led discussions of the latest food safety research, current Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Management Practices (GMPs), and proven tools to develop comprehensive food safety strategies for on-farm and packinghouse operations.

“Food safety is a top priority for United, and these hands-on, science-based industry workshops provide an essential service to the industry professionals responsible for implementing sound food safety programs,” said Jim Gorny, United vice president of quality assurance and technology.

“Program participants will learn a great deal about the latest food-safety principles necessary to ensure the safest, most efficient supply of fresh produce,” said Gorny.

New for 2006, the program will feature demonstrations of hands-on exercises on preparing and implementing a biosecurity plan for fresh produce operations.

Specific breakout sessions will teach participants how to identify and prevent food safety hazards, monitor hazard-reduction procedures, develop control limits, and document and verify the results of their efforts. Participants also will learn how to use microbial testing as a verification tool for audit compliance.

In addition, the program will help participants establish systems for verifying food safety plans when performing field and packing house audits.

“United is the produce industry’s leader in food safety education, and we’re pleased to continue this important partnership,” said Bill Hurst, University of Georgia professor of Food Science and Technology. “This workshop provides indispensable information for the fresh produce industry, as well as for the third party auditors in charge of assessing food safety and security programs,” said Hurst.

For more information about the program, including registration details, please visit www.uffva.org or contact United Education Program Coordinator Beth Berman at bberman@uffva.org or (202) 303-3400 ext. 405.

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