By Clint Thompson
A collaborative effort between Auburn University, University of Georgia and Clemson University has led to the development of the Small Fruit Certifications online course.
It was developed for Extension agents, specialists and other outreach providers who are not as familiar with produce safety, says Kristin Woods, Alabama Regional Extension agent.
“More and more our agricultural agents and some of our other agencies are being asked about these things. We wanted them to have some basic knowledge so that they could start to help producers and get them in the right direction to get more information themselves,” Woods said. “A lot of our agricultural agents and specialists are really busy in their areas of specialty. They don’t have time to take a one or two-day course just on good agricultural practices or just on the produce safety rule. This was a way to get some information to them in a way that would respect their time and be useful to them.”
The free two-hour course covers the basics of produce safety as covered in the National Organics Program, Certified Naturally Grown, Primus Global Food Safety Initiative, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Good Agricultural Practices and the Food Safety Modernization Act.
“Every year there’s some sort of outbreak that comes to everyone’s attention. It sure doesn’t seem like it’s going to go away,” Woods said. “There are things we have to start paying attention to that we haven’t been in the past to make sure that our practices are changing along with the food system that produce is going into.”
The program can be assessed at www.aces.edu/go/smartfruitcertification.