When it comes to foodborne illness, fresh produce belies its healthful aura: Fresh fruits and vegetables account for 24 percent of U.S. foodborne illness in which both the responsible food and contaminant are identified, according to a 2013 analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
That’s one reason why Ohio State University’s Fruit and Vegetable Safety Program is holding a series of Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPs, training sessions throughout Ohio this winter and spring. The program is a combined effort of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the outreach and research arms of the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
GAPs sessions are aimed to help growers understand the basic concepts of good agricultural practices and begin developing a farm food safety plan, said Lindsey Hoover, the program’s coordinator.
Over the past two years, the team held 32 such programs with 859 participants, Hoover said. In a series of pre and post-tests conducted in those classes, evaluations indicated that 75 percent of participants showed improvement in information and knowledge gained from the training.
“An additional 18 percent of test scores remained the same, and a number of those were perfect scores to begin with — they couldn’t have improved if they tried,” she said.
Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced it will be revising its proposed regulations for produce growers under the Food Safety Modernization Act, Hoover said the GAPs sessions will cover food safety measures all fruit and vegetable producers should be taking to reduce the risk of produce-related foodborne illness, no matter what’s contained in the final regulations.
(Source – http://www.farms.com/news/sessions-aim-to-improve-on-farm-safety-of-fruits-vegetables-71506.aspx)