By Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
About 48 million people in the U.S. (1 in 6) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is a significant public health burden that is largely preventable.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is transforming the nation’s food safety system by shifting the focus from responding to foodborne illness to preventing it. Congress enacted FSMA in response to dramatic changes in the global food system and in our understanding of foodborne illness and its consequences, including the realization that preventable foodborne illness is both a significant public health problem and a threat to the economic well-being of the food system.
The FDA has finalized seven major rules to implement FSMA, recognizing that ensuring the safety of the food supply is a shared responsibility among many different points in the global supply chain for both human and animal food. The FSMA rules are designed to make clear specific actions that must be taken at each of these points to prevent contamination.
In response to the rule concerning the sale of fresh fruits and produce, the Fannin County UGA Extension office is hosting a one day workshop for produce growers on Tuesday, March 27th at the Kiwanis Fairgrounds located at 124 Jones Street in Blue Ridge. The class will start at 8:00 a.m. and run until 5:00p.m. The training will cover the standardization curriculum designed by the Produce Safety Alliance, which meets the regulatory requirements of the Produce Rule under FSMA.
The cost of the class is $15.00 payable in cash or check at the door and it includes lunch. In order to attend the workshop you must register at the following link: http://bit.ly/blueridgemarch. The course will provide a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and co-management information, FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements and details on how to develop a farm food safety plan.
Any produce grower who grows, packs, harvests, and/or holds covered produce, makes over $25,000 in annual produce sales and does not qualify for a Produce Safety Rule exemption is required to attend a training under new federal regulations.
Individuals that attend the workshop are expected to gain a basic understanding of the requirements in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and how to meet them successfully. Participants will also learn about microorganisms relevant to produce safety and where they can be found on the farm. You will also learn how to identify microbial risks, practices that reduce risks, and how to begin implementing produce safety practices on the farm along with understanding the parts of a farm food safety plan and how to begin writing one.
For more information email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at the UGA Extension office in Gilmer County or Fannin County.