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N.C. MarketReady releases fresh produce safety training curriculum

November 11, 2009

Media Contact: Leah Chester-Davis, coordinator of communications and community outreach, N.C. MarketReady, 704-250-5406 or leah_chester-davis@ncsu.edu

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – N.C. Cooperative Extension is helping fruit and vegetable farmers across the state minimize fresh produce safety risks through a comprehensive set of educational tools.

The N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety - Field to Family training curriculum is being distributed this week to extension agents throughout the state. The training manual focuses on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), including what it takes to obtain GAPs certification, and managing risks from field to market. Extension agents, who received training on using the curriculum earlier this year, will use the curriculum to train growers.

"This is an opportune time to educate growers so that they may be equipped with the knowledge of Good Agricultural Practices in advance of impending food safety regulations," says Diane Ducharme, GAPs program coordinator and extension associate in horticulture and food safety with N.C. MarketReady. "Implementing the practices outlined in the training curriculum will allow North Carolina growers to compete in the evolving agricultural market."

The curriculum is divided into two training tiers. The tiered educational program has been developed to encompass the wide range of growers' needs, reflecting farm size, markets and associated commodity specific risks. It is designed to give producers a proactive, educational and incentive-based program for their individual needs.

- Tier 1 will address GAPs that are directly related to field production and harvest. The training will include an introduction to common food-borne pathogens and diseases as well as recognizing points of potential contamination, proper use of biosolids as a nutrient source, effective hand-washing procedures, packing facility cleanliness and verifying water quality for field application and postharvest handling.

- Tier 2 will address risk identification and management issues, including transportation and traceability, product recalls, liability and insurance options and crisis communications.

The N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety training curriculum was developed with funding from the Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and the USDA Risk Management Agency. Contributing authors of the curriculum were faculty from N.C. State and N.C. A&T State universities, along with members of the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Task Force. Learn more at www.ncmarketready.org.

N.C. MarketReady, formerly known as the Program for Value-Added and Alternative Agriculture, is a program of N.C. Cooperative Extension, which is an educational outreach effort of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University. N.C. MarketReady's multidisciplinary team builds partnerships and educational resources to help North Carolina agriculture be more profitable. N.C. MarketReady is a partner of the Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis.

Written by: Megan Bame

Posted by Dave at November 11, 2009 10:52 AM