The Food Protection Program of the Indiana State Department of Health is all about helping produce growers and packers keep food safe for consumers. Purdue Extension expertise has played a large role in the program.
Purdue Extension trained about 20 state program staff members in a course called “Good Agricultural Practices from A to Z.” Known as GAPs, the good agricultural practices course gave Food Protection Program staff important information they need to advise growers and packers how to reduce the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks (such as from Salmonella), says George C. Jones, deputy director.
“The training was a very worthwhile endeavor for our staff members in understanding the many factors that can affect the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Jones says. “It has helped our program focus on important food protection principles and to offer the produce industry sound advice.”
For example, staff from the Food Protection Program and Purdue Extension presented workshops about melon packing shed sanitation procedures during the 2013 and 2014 growing seasons.
“The workshops have been well-received by the industry, and they seem to really appreciate our efforts to bring the knowledge directly to them — and in a nonthreatening way,” Jones says.
He says the training has been especially helpful to two staff members who provide consultation services for northern and southern Indiana produce growers and packers.
“The training will help to assure that wholesome produce is delivered to both retail and wholesale markets in Indiana and beyond our borders,” Jones says. “We look forward to ongoing collaboration with Purdue Extension to continue to offer the produce industry the best practices that can help them to have successful businesses and at the same time assure consumers are offered safe and healthy food choices.”
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