By Sarah Everhart
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In my recent post on Produce Safety & COVID-19, I provided a brief overview of an exciting new food safety webinar series and this post will provide a more thorough description of why the series was created and how growers can benefit from tuning in. The Maryland Food Safety Network is hosting a monthly webinar series for farm operators on how to comply with key provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule (PSR). This series, titled “Food Safety Fridays- a ‘How-to’ Webinar Series” will be held one Friday each month from May to November. Each installment will include half-hour recorded presentations followed by an open question and answer session. The webinars will be hosted by experts demonstrating how to perform risk assessments, implement practices, and keep records to comply with the PSR.
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 established national standards, growers from outside of Maryland are welcome to attend and will benefit from attending.
According to Dr. Angela Ferelli, Agent Associate in Food Safety at the University of Maryland, “we have heard from produce growers that they need more information to put the best practices they learned at Produce Safety Rule Grower Trainings to use on their farms. We hope the monthly ‘how-to’ webinars, with seasonally relevant examples of farm practices, can assist growers in translating food safety training into practice to efficiently and effectively reach their food safety goals and comply with the PSR.” The webinars will highlight practices that have been identified, during on-farm readiness reviews, as areas in need of improvement.
The series kicked off on May 22, 2020 with a webinar on how to effectively and efficiently train your workers, which is recorded and will soon be available to watch on the ALEI website and the University of Maryland Extension site. 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.
According to Ferelli, “although a food safety plan is not required by the PSR, it is highly recommended as a way to organize and implement the many facets of the PSR. For growers who don’t yet have a food safety plan, it is our hope that these webinars can be a tool to both create the standard operating procedures (SOPs) necessary to prevent food safety risks and turn those SOPs into a useful farm-specific playbook, i.e. the food safety plan.”
Register for the webinars today! Registration for each webinar is required.