According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 48 million people become ill from contaminated food every year in the United States; nearly half of those illnesses are the result of contaminated produce. With proper training and food safety planning, many of these outbreaks can be prevented.
West Virginia University Extension is helping local farmers and agribusiness owners navigate new safety regulations and procedures while providing education and training to increase consumer safety from these foodborne illnesses.
Teaming up with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and West Virginia State University, WVU Extension is offering a series of Food Safety Modernization Act training sessions for fruit and vegetable growers, as well as others interested in learning about produce safety.
In the coming months, six Produce Safety Alliance (PSA)-approved grower trainings will be held around the state. Each session will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the following locations:
- September 25 at the West Virginia State Fairgrounds (947 Maplewood Ave., Lewisburg)
- October 18 at the Roane-Jackson Technical Center (9450 Spencer Road, LeRoy)
- November 8 at the WVU Extension Mineral County Office (541 Harley O. Staggers Drive, Suite 2, Keyser)
- November 10 at West Virginia Pumpkin Park (One Pumpkin Park, Milton)
- December 6 at the Marlinton Wellness Center (105 Duncan Road, Marlinton)
- February 13 at the West Virginia Small Farm Conference (Charleston Civic Center, 200 Civic Center Drive, Charleston)
The courses provide a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices and co-management information, FSMA produce safety rule requirements and details on how to develop a farm food safety plan. These grower training courses are a way for growers to satisfy the FSMA produce safety rule requirement outlined in § 112.22(c) that requires at least one responsible party from a farm to successfully complete food safety training that is recognized as sufficient by the Food and Drug Administration.
The cost for the training is $50 per person, which includes a PSA grower training manual, refreshments and a certificate of attendance from the Association of Food and Drug Officials upon completion of the course and subsequent submission of necessary documentation.
Space is limited and reservations will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
WVU Extension and its partners are able to offer these trainings at substantial cost savings to growers through grants from the Benedum Foundation and the FDA FSMA Produce Safety West Virginia Cooperative Agreement.
Questions should be directed to Dee Singh-Knights at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-293-7606.
For more information about WVU Extension, visit extension.wvu.edu.