Expert to teach keys to safe produce at seminar

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MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Robert C. Williams, a food safety and technology expert at Virginia Tech University, will provide a daylong session on good handling practices and good agricultural practices Feb. 17 at the West Virginia Small Farm Conference at Lakeview Resort outside Morgantown.

Purpose

The training will help produce growers, farmers market personnel and further processors meet the production safety, traceability and recordkeeping recommendations that have become common in the marketplace due to consumer demand.

Several of these practices are slated for implementation in the future as a part of the comprehensive federal food safety act recently enacted into law. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will not require plans from small producers, but retailer and consumer demand may result in a price premium for GHP-GAP-certified products.

Cost-share dollars are being secured for audits, but only for producers who have undergone approved GHP-GAP training, stressed Jean Smith, director of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture‘s Marketing and Development division.

“This course is approved and will include a wide variety of take-home materials. This will also be an opportunity to talk with Dr. Williams, a nationally recognized expert in the field, along with federal and state program managers,” said Smith.

Material

Topics to be covered include microorganisms of concern, managing manure, compost and agricultural water, worker hygiene, hazard identification, current requirements, details on the audit program, an audit checklist and a grower self-assessment tool.

The Small Farm Conference is sponsored by the West Virginia University Extension Service. Registration and program information can be found at http://smallfarmcenter.ext.wvu.edu/conference/schedule.

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