NEW PRODUCE SAFETY PROGRAM AT BFS
The passage of the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2011 is the largest overhaul of food safety regulations in decades. These regulations are designed to address the numerous outbreaks of food-borne illnesses like Listeria and Salmonella that have been documented across the country in the last 10 to 15 years, many of which have been traced to raw produce. The rules require farmers to address issues related to agricultural water use, worker health and hygiene, cleaning and sanitation after harvest, soil amendments, and other topics.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Agriculture is responsible for implementation of the new rules, and URI is working with the Division of Agriculture and the Rhode Island Department of Health to offer training workshops so farmers know what steps they must take to comply with the new regulations.
The new rules require increased record-keeping and periodic testing of the water used to irrigate crops to ensure it isn’t contaminated; the requirement that animal intrusion into fields is assessed prior to harvest; and that the application of biological soil amendments, specifically compost, must meet certain requirements. Worker training is also critical. Farms that sell or donate their produce are finding that outlets for their produce are requiring their suppliers to follow proper food safety practices and implement food safety strategies.
These new regulations are all about preventing food-borne illness. We want all members of our community to know that the Barrington Farm School is doing the best it can to ensure that produce safety practices are followed. We need to remember that food safety is a shared responsibility from farm to table – from growing, harvesting, and processing to retailer and consumer.
You will see several changes at our farm stand that addresses these concerns. A new produce washing station has been installed, and several new hand washing stations have been added in the fields. Our compost processing procedures have been tweaked to exclude items that may contribute to biological contamination. Cleaning and sanitizing practices have been adopted to assure clean surfaces throughout the farm, and several volunteers have taken the Produce Safety-Growers Training Course offered by URI.
You can help us too! Please bring your own reusable veggie tote bag to carry your farm purchases.
Let’s all have a safe and healthy summer! Visit BFS!
For more information on this program, please contact Bev Migliore at firstname.lastname@example.org.