By Sarah Everhart
In the past few years, many produce growers in our region have attended a mandatory full-day training class to learn about the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) according to state Departments of Agriculture. However, there are common reasons why farms, despite best efforts, are not noncompliant with the PSR. In an effort to help farmers achieve compliance, the Maryland Food Safety Network has created a monthly webinar series on how to remedy common areas of PSR non-compliance. The series, titled “Food Safety Fridays- a ‘How-to’ Webinar Series” will be held one Friday each month from May to November. The next webinar on June 19, 2020, at noon, will focus on conducting water risk assessments. Register here: https://foodsafetyfridays.eventbrite.com.
To make a complete “PSR compliant” water risk assessment, growers are required to perform and document an annual inspection of their farm’s water distribution system from “source to spigot.” According to Molly Gillingham at the Maryland Department of Agriculture, “by conducting on-farm readiness reviews we work with growers to identify areas of their farm that need to be strengthened in order to comply with the PSR. An annual water distribution inspection is something that has consistently been found lacking on many Maryland farms. In order to comply, growers need to understand what needs to be included in this type of assessment and how to properly document the inspection.” This type of practical information will be provided in the webinar on June 19th.
This webinar series is recommended for operators who have attended a Produce Safety Rule Grower Training and want more information on how to apply what they learned and what records they need to keep to be in compliance with the PSR. Because the PSR is based in federal law and establishes national standards, growers from outside of Maryland are welcome to attend and will benefit from tuning in.
The series kicked off on May 22, 2020, with a webinar on how to effectively and efficiently train your workers, which was recorded and is available to watch on the Maryland Food Safety Network Platforms, including http://umaglaw.org/about/food-safety/ and https://extension.umd.edu/foodsafety. The other webinars in the series will be as follows:
June 19, 2020, How to: Make Water Risk Assessments
-Learn how to inspect your water distribution system and conduct a water risk assessment.
July 17, 2020, How to: Get a Handle On Water Quality
-Learn how to properly test your water, communicate with the water testing lab, and how to interpret water test results.
August 21, 2020, How to: Manage Wildlife
-Learn how to conduct pre-harvest assessments for wildlife and how to create appropriate buffer zones for contaminated produce.
September 18, 2020, How to: Develop a Sanitation Program
-Learn how to identify equipment requiring cleaning and sanitizing (including transportation equipment) and create and implement cleaning and sanitizing schedules.
October 16, 2020, How to: Apply, Handle and Store Biological Soil Amendments
-Learn how to determine if your soil amendment is treated or untreated, establish composting protocols, and safely apply and manage untreated amendments on the farm.
November 20, 2020, How to: Put It All Together in a Food Safety Plan
-Learn how to structure what you have learned throughout the webinar series into a customized food safety plan for your farm.
Register for the webinars today at https://foodsafetyfridays.eventbrite.com! Registration for each webinar is required. For questions about the webinars, contact Sarah Everhart at 410-706-7337.
Funding for this series of webinars was made possible, in part, by the Food and Drug Administration through grant PAR-16-137. The views expressed in written materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health & Human Services; nor does any mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organization imply endorsement by the United States Government.