Updated: Dec 16, 2021
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This year members of the Maryland Food Safety Network undertook an ambitious task, namely to breakdown the Produce Safety Rule into a monthly "how-to" webinar series. The series will culminate with a final webinar next month (November 20th at noon) to help growers take what they have learned in each webinar of the series and put into their own food safety plan.
The Maryland Food Safety Network felt the webinar series was needed because although many produce growers have attended the mandatory Produce Safety Rule (PSR) Grower Training, we regularly hear from growers that they continue to struggle with the day-to-day application of the PSR on their farms. We decided, instead of focusing on the letter of law, to make the focus of the webinar series the practical execution of the PSR such as what steps farm operators and workers need to take to implement the PSR and what records need to be kept.
Held one Friday each month starting in May each installment of the series went into detail on one PSR requirement and provided advice on how to achieve compliance in that area. We knew that it would be challenging for growers to catch all of the webinars during the growing season so we made sure to record them and have heard from many growers who benefited from watching the recorded webinars. If you missed some or all of the webinars, it is not too late to catch up before the final November installment. Here is what we have covered thus far:
Learn strategies for effectively training your employees and informing visitors of your food safety procedures
Learn how to inspect your water distribution system and conduct a water risk assessment.
Learn how to properly test your water, communicate with the water testing lab, and how to interpret water test results.
August: How to: Manage Wildlife
Learn how to conduct pre-harvest assessments for wildlife and how to create appropriate buffer zones for contaminated produce.
September: How to: Develop A Sanitation Program
Learn how to identify equipment requiring cleaning and sanitizing (including transportation equipment) and create and implement cleaning and sanitizing schedules.
October: How to: Apply, Handle and Store Biological Soil Amendments (recording coming soon!)
Learn how to determine if your soil amendment is treated or untreated, establish composting protocols, and safely apply and manage untreated amendments on the farm.
The next and final webinar in the series, "How to: Put It All Together in a Food Safety Plan," is on November 20th, 2020, at noon, and will focus on how to structure what growers learned during the mandatory PSR training and throughout the webinar series into a customized food safety plan for the farm.
Although not technically required by the PSR (some GAP certification programs do require them), a customized food safety plan is highly recommended as a way to organize all of the Standards of Procedure (SOPs) growers need to adopt in order to comply with the PSR. We often hear from growers that they plan to, but have not yet, completed a farm food safety plan. If you fall within this category or if you want to revise your food safety plan to make it PSR complaint, mark your calendar for the November 20th webinar.
This webinar series is recommended for operators who have attended a Produce Safety Rule Grower Training and want more information on how to apply what they learned and what records they need to keep to comply with the PSR. If you still need to attend a Produce Safety Rule Grower Training to receive a certificate of completion, mark your calendars for the next remote workshop, to be held over two half-day sessions on January 19 & 20th. Registration information will be available soon at umaglaw.org.