Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Courses
Chris Brunner – March 20, 2019
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), requires vegetable, nut, and fruit growers, to have at least one supervisor or responsible party on the produce farm who has successfully completed food safety training. WIFSS is serving the needs of the farming community by helping meet these training requirements and is offering a series of 20 Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training Courses on behalf of the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA). The training courses run through June 2019 and are offered in English and Spanish.
PSA training courses are designed to provide a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices knowledge that includes emphasis on co-management of food safety and environmental management goals. The farming environment introduces many points of contamination for microbial risks from the soil to the table. Consumer demand for food safety practices along with new government regulations for fresh produce have raised grower awareness of best practices to reduce microbial risks during the production of nuts, fruits and vegetables.
Working with growers, researchers, extension educators, produce industry members, and state and federal regulatory personnel, the Produce Safety Alliance team at Cornell University developed the training courses.
David Goldenberg, Food Safety and Security Training Coordinator at WIFSS, is a PSA Lead Trainer. Goldenberg and Aparna Gazula, a farm advisor for small farms and specialty crops, with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension in Santa Clara County, conducted the first PSA WIFSS training course in early January in Davis for Northern California produce and nut growers. Avery Cromwell, an environmental scientist and inspector for the Central Coast Region, with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and Donna Pahl, Department of Food Science at Cornell University, who serves as a Produce Safety Alliance extension associate with the Southwest Region in Riverside, California, lent a hand in conducting the inaugural course.
In February Goldenberg facilitated a 2-day course in Watsonville where classes were offered in English and Spanish. Dr. Michele Jay-Russell, Research Microbiologist and Manager for the Western Center for Food Safety and Liaison to WIFSS, joined Goldenberg in Oroville in March where they presented an interactive demonstration of wildlife fecal contamination risk and mitigation at the Butte County Farm Bureau.
Sign up now for spring training courses to obtain a certificate of completion for the mandatory training to comply with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, and learn about foodborne illness and its impacts to the produce industry and consumers, different types of foodborne illness organisms, why prevention of contamination is critical to produce safety, how to conduct basic risk assessment, and steps involved in monitoring, recordkeeping, and corrective actions. CDFA through a contract with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is subsidizing the cost of the training. A $30 cost per registrant will be charged to provide a lunch, beverages and the course manual and certificate completion.