Workshop Series – Food Safety Rules and Regulations

— Written By Janel Ohletz
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Food Safety Training for Small Farms

N.C. Cooperative Extension of Durham and Orange Counties are coordinating to host NC State Extension Area Specialized Agent Dr. Chip Simmons and Chloe Johnson from Carolina Farm Stewardship Association for a series of workshops on food safety awareness to include FSMA and GAP. These training sessions will cover what small farm owners need to know about the Federal rules and regulations, exemptions, and also help you prepare a food safety plan. There will be four online workshops, held from 3:30–5 p.m.

Hands-on training workshops are also being planned as part of this series…stay tuned for more details!

Come learn with us!

General Farm Food Safety Awareness Workshops

March 15, 2021 – Understanding FSMA – Register

March 22, 2021 – Introduction to GAP – Register

Food Safety Plan Template Workshops

April 12, 2021 – Part I: Traceability, Employee Training, & Sanitation – Register

April 19, 2021 – Part II: Water, Soil Amendments, & Harvesting – Register

Details and Descriptions

General Farm Food Safety Awareness Workshops

Workshop #1: Understanding FSMA – March 15, 2021 – 3:30–5 p.m.

Have you heard about the new set of Federal food safety regulations? And that small farms might be exempt from this law?

Come get the facts during this online workshop. Dr. Chip Simmons, will cover the facts about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)’s Produce Safety Rule (PSR) and you will learn which practices in the rule are relevant to small farms and how your farm may be impacted.

As part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the FDA developed “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption”, commonly referred to as the Produce Safety Rule (PSR). The goal for this Rule is to minimize the risks for consumers of eating raw fruit and vegetables that could be contaminated with microbial contaminants that cause food-borne illness. The Produce Safety Rule targets produce (fruits and vegetables) that are usually eaten raw. The intent of this workshop is to help you understand where your farm falls under this regulation and learn about food safety practices that are relevant to small, diversified farms in NC. Farm inspections started in the Spring of 2019 and even though most small and medium scale farms may not be covered or may be “qualified exempt” from some of the stipulations of the Rule all produce growers have the responsibility to grow, pack and hold produce following safe practices.


Workshop #2: Introduction to GAP Workshop – March 22, 2021 – 3:30–5 p.m.

Have you been asked to get “GAP Certified,” but you don’t know where or how to get started?

This online workshop, led by Chloe Johnson from the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), will hit on the major topics that must be addressed before a farm can be GAP certified, including: water, soil amendments, employee training, harvest practices, sanitation, and traceability. We will cover the ways that small farms meet food safety standards with minimal infrastructure and procedural changes. Beyond the basics, we will discuss what a typical audit day looks like and help you get familiar with the paperwork required for a successful audit. Getting GAP certified will allow your farm to sell to wholesalers and institutions, most of whom require a GAP certification prior to purchasing produce. You’ll leave this workshop with a detailed checklist on the steps required to become GAP certified and resources to help you achieve your food safety goals.


Food Safety Plan Template Workshops

Workshop #3 – Part I: Traceability, Employee Training, & Sanitation  – April 12, 2021 – 3:30–5 p.m.

Are you writing a Food Safety Plan for your buyer or as part of the process of becoming GAP Certified? In this interactive workshop, we will discuss the basic components of a food safety plan, including: Risk Assessments, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and Records. We will address the major areas covered in the previous GAP certification workshop and help farmers write SOPs for each of them in real-time. In Part I of this two-part series, we will cover SOPs and records for traceability, employee training, and sanitation.


Workshop #4 – Part II: Water, Soil Amendments, & Harvesting – April 19, 2021 – 3:30–5 p.m.

Are you writing a Food Safety Plan for your buyer or as part of the process of becoming GAP Certified? In Part II of this interactive workshop series, we will review the basic components of a food safety plan before getting into writing specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in real-time. Topics covered in Part II will be: water use, soil amendments, harvesting, and packing produce. Participants will leave with SOPs for these four areas and resources for completing your farm’s food safety plan.


Dr. Chip Simmons is an Area Specialized Agent for food safety serving eastern North Carolina. His background is in environmental/public health microbiology and food safety. He is a lead trainer for both the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) curriculum as well as the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance curriculum, the two training curricula currently approved for meeting the requirements for the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and the Food Safety Preventive Controls Rule, respectively. He grew up on a farm in eastern North Carolina and the focus of his efforts are to promote food safety on produce farms by helping growers understand and prepare for FSMA implementation as well as to assist growers in meeting their buyer requirements.

Chloe Johnson from the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA). She has led many farmers through the process of GAP certification, specifically under the USDA Harmonized GAP Standard. CFSA offers free GAP consultation to its farmer-members, including a food safety plan template.