The introduction of third party audits began the need for food safety education on New Jersey farms. Educational demands continue due to increasing produce buyer requirements and establishment of the federal government Food Safety Modernization Act. Meredith Melendez, Senior Program Coordinator of Mercer County and Wes Kline, make up the Rutgers On-Farm Food Safety Team. We are supported by Chris Kleinguenther of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
We expect to hold 8 to 10 training workshops this coming winter focusing on four tracks:
1) Preparing for a third party audit
2) General food safety training
3) Preparing for the Food Safety Modernization Acts Produce Rule
4) Advanced food safety
Here is a brief overview of food safety related programming offered by the Rutgers On-Farm Food Safety Program.
Third Party Audit Training
This full day workshop trains fruit and vegetable producers to comply with the requirements of a USDA Harmonized Third Party Audit. Passing this audit is a requirement of SOME produce buyers. This training is certificate based and satisfies the required training needed for the audit. Several of these workshops offer a hands-on farm food safety plan component.
General Food Safety Training
This six hour training focuses on Good Agricultural Practices applicable to small and medium size farms. A portion of this workshop is spent actively writing the farm food safety plan.
Food Safety Modernization Act Training
This is a new training to be offered in the winter of 2014/2015 that will prepare growers for compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act. We expect FSMA regulations to begin in or around 2019.
Advanced Food Safety Training
Growers who have been through third party audit training and passed an audit will receive detailed training on specific subjects where there have been deficiencies in audits and updates on new food safety research findings.
Farm Walk Throughs
Growers who have written their farm food safety plan and are in the process of scheduling a third party audit may request a farm walk through with Dr. Wesley Kline and/or Meredith Melendez. The purpose of this farm visit is to evaluate the written plan and farm activities for compliance with the third party audit standards.