Last updated: August 23. 2013 3:04PM - 142 Views

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BAINBRIDGE, Ohio - Ohio State University's Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team will hold a Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Education Program for farmers and gardeners on June 20 in southwest Ohio. The training will cover ways to reduce the risk of food-borne illness from fresh produce.



The team is part of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.



Lindsey Hoover, the team's coordinator, said the program's target audience is fruit and vegetable growers who plan to sell their produce directly or indirectly to consumers.



"Food safety is a growing concern," she said. "By taking a GAPs class, you're proving to your customers that you're taking steps to understand and improve produce safety on your farm."



The event takes place 1-4 p.m. at 4053 state Route 41 South in Bainbridge in Ross County. Registration costs $10 per person in advance or at the door.



Participants can register in advance by sending $10, with checks made payable to Ohio State University, to OSU South Centers, 1864 Shyville Road, Piketon, OH 45661.



For more information, call Charissa McGlothin, 740-289-2071, ext. 132.



Among the program's topics will be food-borne illness, contamination, water safety, soil safety, good handling practices, worker training, restrooms and breaks, and hands and hygiene.



"We've noticed an increasing trend in farmers markets requiring their vendors to attend a GAPs education class before they can sell at the market," Hoover said.



But backyard gardeners can benefit from the knowledge, too, she said.



The topics in the program are tied to elements of the Food and Drug Administration's proposed rule for produce safety in the Food Safety Modernization Act.



"While very small growers are currently exempt from the rule, being prepared for future changes in legislation will keep everyone in the produce-growing industry proactive," Hoover said.



"Good Agricultural Practices and food safety are not going away anytime soon."



Participants will receive a workbook that incorporates all the topics covered in the training, fact sheets on FDA's proposed new rule and other informational materials.



The instructors will be experts from Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, which are the college's outreach and research arms, respectively.



Financial support for the training 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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