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The Ohio State University Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team

The OSU Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team educates growers of fresh produce about Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)-Fresh Produce Safety Rules. We strive to ensure a strong scientific basis behind the best practices taught and recommended by our team, provide helpful tools and resources to develop risk assessments and food safety plans for the farm, and promote high-quality, safe produce from Ohio growers.

The OSU Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team was formed as a result of requests from producers for food safety education programs.  These initial programs demonstrated a need for outreach activities focused on fresh produce safety and led to an Excellence in Engagement Grant that enabled us to expand our educational programs statewide. Today our interdisciplinary team consists of OSU faculty, State Extension Specialists, Extension Educators, and Field Specialists.  Team members conduct research to improve best management practices, deliver food safety trainings and provide support for developing and implementing food safety plans. In 2015 and 2016 we trained 1257 fresh produce growers on GAPs and 92 growers on FSMA-Fresh Produce Rules.

News

  1. Cory Anderson Joins the OSU Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team

    Aug 24, 2018

    Dr. Cory Anderson joined the OSU Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team in June 2018.  Cory is a rural sociologist whose research and outreach activities focuses exclusively on the plain Anabaptist people.  Being a professor-scholar who is also a member of an Amish-Mennonite church, he is well positioned to track and investigate the day-to-day cultural dynamics of the plain people. Cory will focus his research and Extension activities on developing culturally appropriate Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and fresh produce safety training materials for plain growers in Ohio.  He will also coordinate and facilitate the OSU GAPs trainings program across the state, working closely with members of the Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team and county Educators.

  2. OSU Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team Awarded OSU Connect and Collaborate Grant

    May 15, 2018

    Development of an Education and Outreach Program to Assist Fresh Produce Growers with Meeting Food Safety Requirements
    Dr. Melanie Lewis Ivey, Dr. Sanja Ilic, Ivory Harlow and members of the fruit and vegetable safety team were awarded a  OSU Conenct and Collaborate grant to develop food safety plan writing workshops and on-farm audit readiness programming for growers in Ohio and bordering counties in West Virginia and Kentucky.  In addition pre-harvest food safety knowledge and awareness training for new and underserved produce growers in the community wil be delivered.  Project partners include The Wallace Center, North Central Region Center for FSMA Training, Extension, and Technical Service (NCRFSE), National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association (OEFFA), The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC)-Outlying Branches, and The Ohio State University’s Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT). For more information on the project contact Dr. Lewis Ivey or Dr. Sanja Ilic.

    Project Summary
    Fresh produce is the leading cause of foodborne illnesses in the country and Ohio growers must meet federal food safety standards to ensure that their produce is safe. Understanding regulatory requirements, awareness of safe agricultural practices, and developing and following written food safety plans (FSP) are critical steps toward minimizing the risk of on farm produce contamination. OSU lags behind other land grant universities in providing fresh produce safety education and training programs. In addition, stakeholder awareness of fresh produce safety programming available at OSU is low compared to their awareness of programming in other states. We have formed a team of Food Safety State Specialists, Extension educators, and community organizations to provide a diverse group of Ohio growers with the tools and resources needed to supply consumers with a safe product.  To address these needs, we will provide:  i) pre-harvest food safety knowledge and awareness training to new and underserved produce growers in the community; ii) farm food safety plan writing workshops and on-farm audit readiness programs; and iii) a roadmap for an OSU food safety training program for FSMA equivalence. In order to achieve our goal in improving fresh produce safety and sustaining the fresh produce industry, we will form a fresh produce safety education and training cooperative with participating food safety experts from Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.

  3. OSU Awarded Food Safety Education Grant

    Dec 17, 2017

    Food Safety Education and Outreach Programming for Plain Growers

    Dr. Sanja Ilic and Dr. Melanie Lewis Ivey were awarded a  $200 000 USDA-NIFA grant to develop food safety programming for Plain produce growers in Ohio.  The programming will be extended to Plain communities in Michigan and Pennsylvania.  The grant includes a regional conference to be held in Ohio in 2019.  A summary of the project is provided below.

    Project Summary

    Food safety education continues to be a challenge for limited-resource populations. Although Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania are home to over half of the Amish population in the US, state educucational programs are often generic and don’t adequately address specific needs of the Amish.  A stakeholder roundtable meeting identified the need for GAPs training that is more relevant to farming practices utilized by Plain growers. While many Plain growers have participated in GAPs trainings in the past and are aware of on-farm food safety hazards, it is evident that program content and delivery methods should be modified to better meet the needs of Plain growers. The objectives of this proposals are to: 1) develop GAPs training adressing the unique farming and handling practices and communication requirements of Plain growers, 2) pilot Plain grower GAPs with distinct settlements in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan (tri-state), and 3) share materials with Plain grower populations through North Central Region Center for FSMA Training. Plain grower GAPs training will be culturally adapted, consider sociolinguistic characteristics and consist entirely of practices utilized by Plain growers. The materials will be designed for settings without electricity. User-friendly presentation materials and food safety plan and recordkeeping templates will be developed for Plain growers. The training will be piloted by Plain growers across the tristate and complement on-going food safety trainings in these states. Completion of this project will allow us to reach a larger number of Plain growers ensuring a greater impact on fresh produce safety in the tri-state region.