Michelle Danyluk describes training that was provided Feb. 11 to help fresh citrus growers comply with the federal Produce Safety Rule. Danyluk is a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) professor and Extension specialist at the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC). She and several other UF/IFAS faculty conducted the training at the CREC. The Produce Safety Rule is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
“One of the requirements of the rule is that one individual from each farm get trained” on the rule, Danyluk says. She says UF/IFAS and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have partnered to offer the training for a $25 fee. Training would cost much more without the training subsidy, she says.
The Produce Safety Rule doesn’t address fruit going to juice. “Juice is covered by another rule by FDA (Food and Drug Administration),” Danyluk says. However, she points out that if citrus growers don’t have their fruit committed for juice and want to sell it on the fresh market, the rule applies to any fresh fruit.
The Feb. 11 training lasted eight hours and covered seven modules. Danyluk provides an overview of the modules and offers some commentary on them. The first module is an introduction to the rule; the second focuses on worker health, hygiene and training. The third addresses biological soil amendments, “which is fancy FDA speak for compost and manure,” Danyluk says.
Wildlife, domesticated animals and land use are addressed in the fourth module. Danyluk says it’s fortunate that “FDA recognizes you can’t keep all animals out of a grove.”
The fifth module covers agricultural water, including that for use in irrigation, spraying and frost protection, as well as water used post-harvest. Postharvest water use includes cleaning harvesting equipment and cleaning packing lines. The final modules address postharvest handling and sanitation, and development of a farm food-safety plan. While the Produce Safety Rule does not require a farm food-safety plan, some fruit buyers do.
“As far as we know, there have been no (foodborne illness) outbreaks associated with fresh citrus,” Danyluk says. She adds that citrus in not a high-risk commodity. “For that (high risk), we talk about tomatoes and leafy greens and berries and melons.” Nonetheless, fresh citrus growers must comply with the Produce Safety Rule.
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