Food safety has never been more important to consumers and producers alike as it is right now, and technology is advancing every day to make higher food safety standards more achievable. This week at a Washington DC press conference, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and FamilyFarmed.org President Jim Slama unveiled a free online tool designed to help farmers take their food safety practices to the next level.
The online food safety tool, which can be found at the On-Farm Food Safety Project, guides farmers and food producers through a series of yes-or-no questions divided into the following risk areas: General Requirements, Worker Health and Hygiene, Previous Land Use and Site Selection, Agricultural Water, Agricultural Chemicals, Animal and Pest Control, Soil Amendments and Manure, Field Harvesting, Transportation (Field to Packinghouse), Packinghouse Activities, and Final Product Transport.
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These questions will ultimately be used to help producers develop a food safety plan of best practices for their facilities, as well as compile a written record of their food safety strategies through the site’s training and audit logs. Producers can also use the site to apply for food safety certification.
“USDA believes that a strong farm safety net-including effective, market-based risk solutions for producers of all variety and size-is crucial to sustain the vitality of American agriculture,” said Merrigan. “Effectively managing risk is important to all producers, and having an acceptable food safety program is in the best interest of consumers, buyers, and the farmers themselves. USDA is proud to have worked with private, public and nonprofit partners to introduce this free tool to farmers seeking to gain certification as a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) producer.”