Maryland: MDA Offers Food Safety Training Workshops for Fruit and Vegetable Producers

Release Date: 03/16/2015

For Immediate Release
Contacts:
Vanessa Orlando
Julie Oberg
410) 841-5888
Maryland: MDA Offers Food Safety Training Workshops for Fruit and Vegetable Producers

Annapolis, Maryland, March 16, 2015 – The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) and University of Maryland Extension (UME) still have room in the last two regional food safety training workshops for fruit and vegetable producers. The $25 registration fee includes lunch and materials. Attendees will receive a certificate of participation following the program. These one-day workshops are important for small- and large-scale producers who want to understand how to meet current and proposed U.S. Food and Drug Administration food safety requirements and meet buyer requirements for Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification. The training will provide education on food safety topics as well as assistance in writing and implementing a farm food safety plan for both wholesale growers and direct marketers, regardless of whether a certification is needed.

Workshop dates are listed below. Register online at: http://gaps2015.eventbrite.com.

Beginner Workshops
• March 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Western MD GAP training. Washington County Extension Office, 7303 Sharpsburg Pike, Boonsboro, MD 21713. Contact Leslie Hart, lhart@washco-md.net, 301-432-4782. Supported by Washington County Ag Development.

Advanced Food Safety Training for growers who are already GAP certified.
• March 20, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Maryland Department of Agriculture, 50 Harry S. Truman Pkwy, Annapolis, MD 21401. Contact Sherry Weygant, Sherry.Weygant@maryland.gov, 410-841-5769.

Registration is limited to 25 participants per training. If you have questions or encounter difficulties registering online, contact the organizer for the specific location.

Topics to be covered include: highlights of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act; Good Agricultural Practices such as addressing pre-harvest and post-harvest issues; cleaning and sanitation of equipment; writing a food safety plan; and MDA/University of Maryland programs to assist producers in implementing GAP. A large portion of the training will be spent helping producers write their own food safety plans. Producers are encouraged to bring their own personal laptops. Laptops will also be provided to those who cannot bring them.

The purpose of these trainings is to prepare growers for GAP certification. MDA offers two GAP certification programs for fruit and vegetable producers. Nationally recognized USDA GAP/GHP and USDA Harmonized GAP pre-harvest and post-harvest certification is provided through a cooperative agreement with USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service and meets the requirements of many wholesale buyers. USDA audit fees may be cost-shared using specialty crop grant funding. MDA GAP certification is geared toward direct marketers or others that want to start with a basic food safety program, and is available to Maryland fruit and vegetable producers at no cost. For more information on these programs, contact Deanna Baldwin with the Maryland Department of Agriculture at Deanna.baldwin@maryland.gov or 410-841-5769 or Donna Pahl with University of Maryland at dpahl@umd.edu or 410-440-2047.
 

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