2012 22.1 Food Safety on the Farm

Recap from the food safety workshop at Tilth Producers’ annual conference
Discussions about food safety were woven through this year’s Tilth Producers Conference. In the Food Policy Symposium on Friday, Claudia Coles of the WSDA reported on the status of the new Food Safety Modernization Act, which expands the FDA’s authority over both imported and domestic foods.

According to Coles, over the next few years the FDA will require all farms to develop and implement food safety programs. She added, however, that the agency is seeking input to ensure the rules are reasonable and practical for all stakeholders, including small farms. The emphasis, she said, will be on education, prevention, record keeping, and documentation.

Sunday afternoon the focus was on food safety for organic farmers. Becky Elias introduced the WSDA’s new “Bridging the Gaps” initiative to provide outreach and education for diversified farms. Andy Ross of Skagit Flats Farm talked about the importance of food safety planning, but shared his concerns over the vagueness of GAPs requirements, some of which may conflict with organic farming practices such as integrating livestock and encouraging wildlife habitat.

Many challenges lie ahead, but food safety is an added priority for ensuring the integrity of organically grown produce. Keys to responding to the challenges include education and close communication with the agencies developing and implementing farm food safety programs.

Tags: Andy Ross, Becky Elias, Claudia Coles, FDA, Food Policy, Food Safety, Food Safety Modernization Act, Gap, Organic Farmers, Skagit Flats Farm, WSDA