Fresh Fruit Safety: Worker Training

Ernie NeffFood Safety

Fresh citrus workers need to be trained in health and hygiene in order to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule. Jamie Burrow provided that training at an all-day training session for growers earlier this year at the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC). Burrow is a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension program manager at the CREC.

Jamie Burrow

“Everyone needs to be trained, and you’re being watched,” Burrow said. “We had a worker one time who said, ‘Why should I do it? The boss doesn’t.’ So it’s important that even as managers and supervisors, that we are not only teaching but we are practicing what we teach.”

Visitors also need to know the food-safety rules they must follow in a grove. “When they arrive, they should know what is expected of them and what they can and cannot do at your facility,” Burrow said.

She addressed some of the specific requirements of the Produce Safety Rule:

“Toilets should be following the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) rules. They do not go in the tree row. And you need to have a plan in place should anything happen. What happens if they tip over; what are you going to do? Have a plan.”

“Handwashing is very important,” Burrow said. “There’s several times when you should be washing your hands — before and after work, before and after eating. You want to make sure that your clothes are clean every day when you arrive to work.”

Burrow emphasized the importance of documentation. “On your recordkeeping, it’s more than just keeping an attendance,” she said. It’s important to document the specific training that was conducted on a specific day, she added.

Other topics addressed by UF/IFAS staffers at the training session included soil amendments, animals in groves, agricultural water and postharvest handling and sanitation.

Hear more from Burrow:

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About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large