Food Safety/Ask Expert

The “Ask the Expert” food safety tool incorporates unique and innovative methods for addressing both the need for improved comprehension of and access to food safety resources, as well as increased profitability and marketing strategies for small- and medium-sized farmers. This tool works with the North Valley Food Hub online brokering system to evaluate the potential application of a group food safety certification program.

The “Ask the Expert” tool allows growers to submit questions about food safety. The questions will be researched and answered by Dr. Doyle and Ms. Bianco-Simeral, CSU, Chico faculty who teach food safety courses, improving growers’ knowledge of the subject.

This tool will build farmer profiles on the food hub website as an original marketing strategy helping to raise the visibility of the growers who have developed food safety plans. The NVFH uses technology to connect markets coupled with real time training on food safety to overcome market limitations. The NVFH will also investigate providing the liability for growers based on the outcome of research, surveys and interviews with buyers taking place in collaboration with the CSU, Chico College of Agriculture.

Ask The Expert

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Q & A

Why should I have a food safety plan in place?

Having a food safety plan in place and good documentation of that plan is important protection for your farm's security, finances, and reputation. If a foodborne illness does happen, having a food safety plan and documentation puts your farm in a good position. With a plan that you can prove that you follow, you are more likely to be able to show that any problem occured somewhere else in the food system, not on your farm. A food safety plan also provides a valuable tool for training employees, interns, and delegating responsibilities. 

What is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

The new, comprehensive food safety legislation, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), marks the first major overhaul of food safety rules in more than 70 years and is changing the larger structure of the country's food safety system from a reactive to a preventative system.  The FSMA is designed to improve traceability of foods and food ingredients, provide for more rigorous testing, and give greater powers to federal authorities to impose mandatory product recalls when contamination is suspected. 

When regulations are finalized, the FSMA will require growers to follow best practices in food safety and follow the final regulations. While it will be some time before a regulation outlining produce safety requirements will be implemented, farmers can begin assessing and improving their operations in terms of food safety right now. For more information, visit www.fda.gov/fsma

Do you know of any resources for creating my own farm safety plan?

The On-Farm Food Safety Project (OFFS) offered by Familyfarmed.org  helps you learn about food safety, create a personalized on-farm food safety plan, and become food safety certified. 

PrimusLabs has developed a free set of templates and tools to assist food industry producers initiate their food safety programs. This is part of the ongoing free support that PrimusLabs has been providing to the industry since 1998.