Produce Safety Alliance forms

A public-private organization will provide produce growers and packagers with fundamental, on-farm food safety knowledge, in advance of a proposed produce safety regulation.

Formation of the alliance was announced by the US Food and Drug Administration, the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, and Cornell University.

The new Produce Safety Alliance is a three-year, $1.15 million partnership funded by the FDA and USDA. It will be housed at Cornell University through a grant from AMS. Cornell’s national Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) program has been a leader in the development of materials on GAPs and in its dissemination of food safety knowledge to the agricultural community.

Key elements of the alliance’s work include

•Developing a standardized—but multi-formatted and multi-lingual—education program on GAPs and co-management.

•Creating an information bank of up-to-date scientific and technical information related to on-farm and packinghouse produce safety, environmental co-management, and eventually the FDA’s proposed produce safety rule.

•Launching a website to make the alliance’s work and information readily accessible.

•Establishing a network of educational collaborators.

•Conducting an assessment of existing educational outreach tools to identify knowledge gaps and to provide for continuous updating.

•Working with steering committee partners and others to develop and deliver train-the-trainer materials and sessions.

In 2011, the FDA is expected to issue a proposed rule on the safe production, harvesting, and packing of produce. The alliance is aimed at giving produce growers and packers training and educational materials and opportunities to learn about current risk-and science-based best food safety practices, and future regulatory requirements.

The alliance will have representatives from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), land grant universities, growers and shippers, produce trade groups, and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, joining FDA, AMS, and Cornell officials on the steering committee.

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