Writer: Norman Martin
SANTA FE - Farmers market vegetable growers and fruit producers in general can improve their understanding of critical sanitation practices during two special "good agricultural practices" (GAPs) workshops on April 26-28 in Santa Fe.
"There are sound economic reasons for participating in these workshops," said Nancy Flores, a food technology specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. "The food safety programs that we'll be covering are increasingly required by distributors, grocery stores and food service dealers as a part of doing businesses with them."
Craig Mapel, a marketing specialist with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, has been working with public schools and Sysco-Nobel, a national food distributor, to accept apples from New Mexico growers, she said. Both will require producers to have GAPs training.
The April 26 GAPs program targets the region's fruit producers, while the April 28 session focuses on farmers market vendors and managers, Flores said. "After they finish this program they'll have the framework for a GAPs food safety plan that can be easily adapted to their own farming operation," she said.
The daylong workshops get underway at 8 a.m. at the Santa Fe County Cooperative Extension Exhibit Hall at 3229 Rodeo Road. Registration is $20, which includes a complimentary lunch.
Sessions will cover worker hygiene, water use, harvest sanitation and post-harvest handling. Other talks will review apple maggot control, as well as GAP assessment exercises and presentations.
Meanwhile, a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) workshop for farmers market food and juice processors will be held April 27, Flores said. "This is program is for farmers market vendors who make and sell packaged food products, as well as juice and cider processors," Flores said.
The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture require the HACCP program because it is an effective approach to food safety and protecting public health, Flores said.
HACCP is a production control system for the food industry, a process used to determine the potential contamination points in food production and to apply strict management and monitoring to ensure safe food products for consumers, she said. It's designed to prevent potential microbiological, chemical and physical hazards, rather than detect them.
The HACCP program will cover food safety regulation, personnel and sanitation rules, along with New Mexico Department of Environment regulations for juice and food processors, Flores said. Participants will review HACCP principles, and take part in breakout exercises and a group presentation, she said.
Both workshops are sponsored by NMSU's Small Farm Task Force, New Mexico Apple Council, New Mexico Farmers Market, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, New Mexico Department of Environment and the Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project.
For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, call Gloria Hernandez at (505) 646-2198 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2013 New Mexico State University Board of Regents
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