As winter approaches and produce growers begin to plan for the next crop, now is a good time to wash away any chance of food contamination in the farming operation, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist.
“The issue of food safety on the farm is important,” said Dr. Joe Masabni, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist at College Station. “We’re working to educate producers about the GAPs, or Good Agricultural Practices, and Good Handling Practices for all the issues from harvesting to packaging.
Producers have to continue to learn for any size operation. From the small farm to the big organic or inorganic 100,000-acre operation, you have to be aware of current issues and get educated and keep up with the trends of the business.”
Masabni presented the information recently at a turf and landscape field day at Texas A&M University in College Station. He and his AgriLife Extension colleagues Dr. Juan Anciso and Ashley Gregory, both of Weslaco, developed training materials about food safety training on the farm with grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Texas Department of Agriculture.
“It’s all about learning how employee health management practices can reduce the potential for contamination of the produce,” Masabni said. “We have been seeing more and more food contamination issues related to fresh fruit or vegetables. So the increase in these incidents of salmonella and E. coli contamination in fruits and vegetables is what got the government interested in addressing this problem.”