Fresh Produce Safety Training Set for Portage, Stark, Cuyahoga Counties

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WOOSTER, Ohio – Ohio State University’s Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team will hold workshops on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) for fresh produce growers in three locations over the next three months.

All three workshops will focus on preventing microbial contamination on fruit and vegetable farms. The workshop presenters are all specialists from Ohio State University Extension, which is the outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

  • Feb. 27: 1-4 p.m. in OSU Extension’s Portage County office meeting room, 6970 State Route 88, Ravenna. Co-sponsored by Downtown Ravenna Farmers Market. $10. Registration deadline Feb. 25. Information: Heather Neikirk, or 330-296-6432.
  • March 22: 1-4 p.m. in OSU Extension’s Stark County office, USDA Service Center meeting room, 2650 Richville Drive SE, Massillon. $10. Registration deadline March 20. Information: Heather Neikirk, or 330-296-6432.
  • April 9: 6-9 p.m. in OSU Extension’s Cuyahoga County office training room, 5320 Stanard Ave., Cleveland. $10. Pre-registration required; space limited; no registration at the door. Send name, contact information and registration payment (make checks payable to “OSU Extension”) to OSU Extension, Cuyahoga County, Attn: Jacqueline Kowalski, 9127 Miles Ave., Cleveland, OH 44105. Information: Jacqueline Kowalski, 216-429-8200, ext. 217.

Participants will receive a resource workbook, paper handouts and a certificate of participation as verification for their customers that they’ve received GAPs training, said Ashley Kulhanek, an OSU Extension educator in Medina County and a member of the team.

The workshops don’t provide formal certification in GAPs, however, she said. That instead requires a farm audit conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a third-party company.

“Not all farms are required to be GAPs-certified by a third-party audit,” Kulhanek said. “Many small farms will be exempt from federal regulations requiring audits, but customers of small farms or managers of farmers markets may have some expectations for farmers to have been trained in GAPs or to have some food safety measures in place, if not fully audited.

“GAPS training in general can benefit growers by increasing their competitiveness in the marketplace by showing their efforts to cut the risk of food-borne illness.”

Financial support for the programs is provided in part by a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Program, which has helped reduce the registration cost.

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CFAES News Team