Tag Archive: Safety

Farm Food Safety Workshops – October 5 & 26

Farm Food Safety Workshops – October 5 & 26

Photo by Judy Biss

Two Farm Food Safety Workshops are scheduled for October in the Panhandle.  A Building Your Own Farm’s Food Safety Manual Workshop is scheduled for October 5th in Crestview and a Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training is scheduled for October 26 in Marianna.  The PSA Grower Training curriculum is approved by the FDA to meet the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

Which Training Should Growers Attend?

  • All fruit and vegetable farms should have a food safety manual.  If you haven’t created a manual yet, then you will learn what needs to go in your manual and develop your own manual at the Building Your Own Farm’s Food Safety Manual Workshop in Crestview.
  • Fruit and vegetable farms that have an annual value of produce sold (based on a three year average) of $ 25,000 (adjusted for inflation) or more are required to attend an FDA approved FSMA training such as the PSA Grower Training offered in Marianna.
  • If both of the above criteria apply to you, then you should attend both trainings.

Benefits of Attending Each Workshop

  • The Building Your Own Farm’s Food Safety Manual Workshop will not only allow you to develop your own Food Safety Manual, but it will also help you prepare for a Food Safety Audit.  You will go home with an electronic copy of you personalized food safety manual, food safety training materials for you employees, and a food safety reference notebook.  This workshop also provides CEUs for pesticide applicators.
  • The PSA Grower Training will cover the requirements of the FSMA produce safety rule. It will also cover key Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that are necessary in a farm food safety plan.  You will go home with a FSMA produce safety rule reference notebook and a Certificate of Course Attendance compliant with FSMA requirements.

Cost to Attend Each Workshop and Registration Information

  • The fee for the Building Your Own Farm’s Food Safety Manual Workshop is $ 35 for the first person representing a farm and $ 15 for one additional attendee.  Registration fee includes the training materials, an electronic copy of your personalized manual, lunch, refreshments, and a Certificate of Course Attendance.  Register by calling the Jackson County Extension Office at (850)482-9620 or emailing Sabrina at s.farr@ufl.edu.  (Note: This workshop will be held at the Okaloosa County Extension Office, 3098 Airport Rd., Crestview, FL.)
  • The fee for the PSA Grower Training is $ 95.  For attendees who are members of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA), a discounted rate of $ 80 is available.  (Not sure if you’re a member?  Contact Sonia Tighe at 321-214-5245 or sonia.tighe@ffva.com).  Registration fee includes the training materials, lunch, refreshments, and a Certificate of Course Attendance that complies with the training requirements of FSMA.  Register online at Online Registration or download the training brochure to register by mail.

If you have any questions pertaining to which training is right for you or other general food safety questions, please feel free to contact Matt Lollar with the Jackson County Extension Office at (850)482-9620 or mlollar@ufl.edu.



Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/08/farm-food-safety-workshops-october-5-26/

Safety and Best Management Practices Essential for Pesticide Use

Many folks may not realize it at first, but everyone is using pesticides. Have you recently used a mold or mildew removal cleaner in your bathroom? Do you apply flea & tick powder to your pet? It is a misconception that only farmers, ranchers and lawn and garden enthusiasts are pesticide users. So, let’s all keep safety in mind, as any of these household and outdoor chemicals can be dangerous.

Example of Precautionary Statement and Personal Protective Equipment Instruction. Credit: UF/IFAS Extension

Pesticides include a wide range of products that either kill or repel pests. These pests can be insects, nuisance animals, weeds, plant pathogens, molds and other undesirables. Are pesticides necessary? Maybe not. Pesticides should be considered as a last resort. Using an integrated pest management (IPM) approach is an environmentally safe, and often, economical way to reduce pests. Usually, there are four steps involved in IPM, starting with the practice with the least environmental impact, until a solution to the pest problem has been found. For example, say that you are having issues with aphids in your garden. The IPM approach may begin with cultural measures (ex. avoiding high nitrogen fertilizer as it promotes lush growth that creates a favorable environment for aphids). This may be followed by mechanical measures (ex. use of insect netting) and if problem still exists, biological measures (ex. release of parasitic wasps). As stated earlier, the last resort would be chemical measures (ex. applying pesticide). There are varying IPM strategies for different pests. Please visit the UF/IFAS IPM website for more information: http://ipm.ifas.ufl.edu/

When pesticide usage is necessary, it’s important to select the right chemical(s). Once the pest has been identified, check pesticide labels under the section “pests controlled”. Never assume a pesticide will control a pest not listed under this section. Often, there are numerous products that list a common pest. Always consider five factors when determining the right pesticide: environmental friendliness, effects on beneficial organisms, ease of use, available application equipment and cost.

Once a pesticide has been chosen, be sure to follow the directions. It is critical to mix a concentrated pesticide accurately, therefore follow the product label. Diluting concentrated pesticides by mixing with water is necessary to achieve the correct concentration. Increasing the concentration is dangerous and will have a negative response. The response can be environmental harm, damage to desirable plants and beneficial organisms and above all, it’s illegal to apply rates greater than the specified label.

Remember, pesticide exposure can be life threating under certain circumstances. Pesticides can enter the body in several ways. The most common entries are mouth, inhalation, eyes or skin. Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when mixing and applying pesticides. Precautionary statements for humans and domesticated animals will be supplied on the product label. Examples of safety information are: causes eye irritation, harmful if swallowed or avoid contact with eyes or clothing. Dress accordingly based on the safety information supplied by the product label. Some types of PPE are long rubber gloves, goggles, respirators, waterproof apparel and rubber boots.

All pesticides should be stored out of the reach of children. Pesticides stored in any container not deemed pesticide compatible (ex. canning jars and food or soft drink containers) is illegal. For more information on pesticide safety and best management practices, contact your local county extension office.

Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publication: “Homeowner’s Guide to Pesticide Safety” by Frederick M. Fishel: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/PI/PI05100.pdf

UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.


Author: Ray Bodrey – rbodrey@ufl.edu

Gulf County Extension Director, Agent II Agriculture & Natural Resource, Horticulture, Sea Grant

Ray Bodrey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/01/safety-and-best-management-practices-essential-for-pesticide-use/

Snorkeling Safety at the Jetty

Snorkeling Safety at the Jetty

The St Andrew Bay pass jetty is more like a close family friend than a collection of granite boulders. The rocks protect the inlet ensuring the vital connections of commerce and recreation. One of the treasured spots along the jetty is known locally as the “kiddie pool”, which is accessible from St Andrew’s State Park. There are similar snorkeling opportunities throughout northwest Florida. Jetties provide an opportunity to explore hard substrate or rocky marine ecosystems. These rocks are home to a variety of colorful sub-tropical and migrating tropical fish.

sergeant majors

Snorkelers and divers who visit are likely to see a variety fish like sergeant majors, blennies, surgeon and doctor fish, just to name a few. Photo by L Scott Jackson.

Exploring a jetty is more like a sea-safari adventure than an experience in a real swimming pool – it is a natural place full of potential challenges that first time visitors need to prepare to encounter.

Divers and snorkelers are required to carry dive flags when venturing beyond designated swimming areas. These flags notify boaters that people are in the water. Brightly colored snorkel vests are not only good safety gear but they help you rest in the water without standing on rocks which are covered in barnacles and sometimes spiny sea urchins.

Long Spined Sea Urchin

According to the Florida Department of Health, most sea urchin species are not toxic but some Florida species like the Long Spined Sea Urchin have sharp spines can cause puncture injuries and have venom that can cause some stinging. Swim and step carefully when snorkeling as they usually are attached to rocks, both on the bottom and along jetty ledges. Photo by L Scott Jackson

Dive booties also help protect your feet. I found out the hard way! A couple of years ago my foot hit against a sea urchin puncturing my heel. The open back of my dive fin did not provide any protection resulting in a trip to the urgent care doctor. My daughter later teased it was an “urchin care” doctor! Sea urchin spines are brittle and difficult to remove, even for a doctor. Lesson Learned: “Prevention is the best medicine”.

After a couple of weeks of limping around and a course of antibiotics, I recovered ready to return one of my favorite watery places – a little wiser and more prepared. I now bring a small first aid kit, just in-case, to help take care of small scrapes, cuts, and other minor injuries.

Gloves are recommended to protect hands from barnacle cuts and scrapes. Shirts like a surfing rash guard or those made from soft material help keep your body temperature warm on long snorkel excursions. Along with sunscreen, shirts also protect against sunburn.

Properly Prepared Snorkeler

There’s opportunity to see marine life from the time you enter the water with depths for beginning snorkelers at just a few feet deep. Some SCUBA divers also use the jetty for their initial training. Most underwater explorers are instantly hooked, and return for many years to come. Photo by L Scott Jackson

Finally, know the swimming abilities of yourself and your guests, especially when venturing to deeper areas. It’s good to have a dive buddy even when snorkeling. Pair up and watch out for each other. Be aware that currents and seas can change dramatically during the day. Know and obey the flag system. Double Red Flag means no entry into the water. Purple flags indicate presence of dangerous marine life like jellyfish, rays, and rarely even sharks. Local lifeguards and other beach authorities can provide specific details and up to date safety information.

Follow these beach safety tips for helping your family enjoy the beach while protecting coastal wildlife.

An Equal Opportunity Institution. UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension. Single copies of UF/IFAS Extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth publications) are available free to Florida residents from county UF/IFAS Extension offices.



Author: Scott Jackson – lsj@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Bay County Extension Florida Sea Grant Regional Specialized Agent (Artificial Reefs and Fisheries)

Scott Jackson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/14/snorkeling-safety-at-the-jetty/

Essentials of Water Safety

Essentials of Water Safety

Summer is upon us and that means many of us will be enjoying pools, lakes, rivers, and the ocean. Florida provides many opportunities for outdoor water recreation that we should enjoy responsibly and safely. Are you prepared to handle a water emergency? Do you have water safety rules? Do you know CPR? These are all things to consider. Not everyone is ‘waterproof’ and taking precautions can really prevent a misfortune.

As the warm summer months draw many of us to the water for fun and fellowship, remember, sudden things are sudden and people drown quickly and quietly. Being honest about your swimming abilities is important. If you are not a strong swimmer, chances are you will not be able to help someone in trouble. This is also important if you are supervising others. Take the time to work on your swimming skills with others or take lessons. Knowing basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR, also can increase the chances of survival for a drowning victim.

There is safety in numbers; enlist another adult to help when supervising swimming children. If you are at a public beach, river, or lake, locate the lifeguard and position yourself close to the stand. If the beach is the locale for the day, look for the flag to alert you to the surf conditions and adhere to the recommendations of the flag and signage. If you are at a venue with no lifeguard on duty, you are now the lifeguard! Locate any emergency devices available to you and be certain you have cell phone reception in case you must call for help. Have those you are supervising demonstrate their swimming abilities. Knowledge of someone’s swimming abilities in advance can allow you to set safer boundaries. For example, if a child cannot swim the width of the pool without stopping and placing their feet on the bottom, you have determined, for their safety, they must remain in the shallow area of the pool where they can stand up. Another great option is to have the children utilize swimming vests. Never allow for rough play in the water. What seems to be harmless quickly can become life- threatening.

No matter the venue, ocean, river, lake, or pool, be steadfast in monitoring the swimmers and prepared to assist if you are needed. The American Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation have an online course to educate pool owners. The American Heart Association provides the option of taking an online CPR course. Being prepared for a potential crisis is the first step to avoiding a crisis. Many wishes for a safe summer of water fun!



Author: Marie Arick – jmarick@ufl.edu

Originally from Starkville, Mississippi, Arick obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Mississippi State University. With her bachelor’s degree in Fitness Management/Exercise Science, Arick spent 18 years in the medical field primarily in Cardiology before obtaining her Master’s degree in Health Promotion. “I witnessed first-hand the impact on one’s health and overall wellness produced by a serious ailment and the need for more educational programs to aid in improving the overall quality of life for people. This is not just isolated to health education and wellness, but also financial literacy and job skill programs as well. I feel addressing issues with a holistic approach can help people maximize their abilities and that small changes over time can provide a very positive and beneficial impact on people’s lives”

Marie Arick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/03/essentials-of-water-safety/

Food Safety Tips for the Perfect Summer Picnic

Food Safety Tips for the Perfect Summer Picnic

There are few things more iconic during summer than a picnic.  There’s just something fresh and fun about sharing a meal in the park or at the beach with family and friends.  But just because you’re enjoying the warm, gentle breeze doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind.  By following a few simple food safety tips, you can ensure that your perfectly planned picnic doesn’t make you sick.

Planning it out.  Not all foods are picnic-appropriate.  Anything that requires a lot of perishable ingredients and/or a lot of preparation should be avoided.  Stick with foods that require little or no cooking and that contain just a few ingredients.  Foods such as fruits and vegetables (especially whole ones), hard cheeses, peanut butter and jelly, cereal, bread, and crackers are ideal picnic items.  Anything made with commercially processed custard or mayonnaise will stay safe as long as they are kept cold.

Packing it up. Use a cooler, if possible, and store cold foods together so they can help each other stay colder longer.  Use ice or frozen gel packs to help keep foods cold.  Pack foods directly from the refrigerator into the cooler; don’t leave them sitting out before packing.  Store ready-to-eat foods separately from raw meats.  If packing up hot foods, be sure to keep them in a thermos or other insulated dish.  DO NOT store them in the same container as the cold foods.  Paper towels, disposable utensils, and a food thermometer are ideal picnic accessories.  Remember, keep cold foods below 41 degrees F and hot foods above 135 degrees F.  Do your best to keep the cooler away from direct sunlight by storing it in the shade and be sure to replenish the ice and/or frozen gel packs when they melt.  Consider packing drinks in a separate cooler, as they are consumed more frequently; this will reduce the exposure of food items to warm air until you’re ready to eat.

Preparing the feast.  All food items should be kept at the proper temperature at all times.  When cooking raw meats, use separate plates for the raw and cooked products and clean and sanitize utensils between uses.  Cook meat to the proper recommended internal temperature to ensure doneness and safety.  Click here for a list of recommended internal cooking temperatures.

Presenting the bounty.  Discard any perishable foods that have been left out for longer than two hours.  In really hot weather (generally above 90 degrees F), foods should not be left out longer than one hour.  Keep food protected in storage containers such as coolers and lidded dishes to minimize contamination from flies and other pests.  Serve small portions of food at a time and keep the rest in the cooler.

Picnics are an important part of summer and with just a little bit of planning and a few useful tips and tools, they can be safe and delicious for everyone!

Source: Beaugh, Kristina. “Checklist for the Perfect Summer Picnic,” Foodsafety.gov blog, June 16, 2015.  URL: https://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/2015/06/picnic.html.



Author: Samantha Kennedy, M.S. – skennedy@ufl.edu

Samantha is the Family & Consumer Sciences agent in Wakulla County. She has worked for UF/IFAS Extension since 2004. She has a B.S. in both Microbiology & Cell Science and Nutritional Sciences and an M.S. in Agricultural Education, both from UF. Her areas of expertise are nutrition, health & wellness, chronic disease prevention, food safety, disaster preparedness, and financial literacy. You can reach her via email at skennedy@ufl.edu or by calling (850) 926-3931.

Samantha Kennedy, M.S.

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/03/food-safety-tips-for-the-perfect-summer-picnic/

Boating Safety Tips for REEL Summer Fun!

Boating Safety Tips for REEL Summer Fun!

Anticipation of the catch is what thousands of Panhandle boaters will have on their minds as they leave the docks this summer for a day of fishing. However, a hasty departure in their excitement to get to that favorite spot may be the recipe for an outing some would prefer to forget; or worse, a tragedy that could have been prevented.

Inshore fishing near Pensacola Pass
Photo: Molly O’Connor

Here are a few things to consider when planning a day on the water that will greatly increase your odds of having success in what matters most; a fun day and safe return for all. Heck, you can always make up some fish stories.

Equipment Check: A basic safety check involves many key aspects that can make or break a trip.

Trailer: (current tag, tires, lights, tie downs, safety chain and winch condition)
Boat: (current registration, navigation gear, vhf radio, motor condition, fuel/oil check, navigation lights, battery, anchor and rope, boat plugs, paddles)
Safety equipment: (flares, fire extinguisher, personal flotation, emergency locator beacon, sound producing device)
Tools: (basic kit with vice grips, needle nose pliers, wire cutters, screw drivers, adjustable wrench, etc.)
Miscellaneous: (sun screen, food, hat, rain gear, polarized glasses, drinking water, cell phone, dry bag, first-aid kit, medicine)
Fishing gear and bait, of course! (Insert garage full of “stuff” here)

Refer to this Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) LINK to know the legal requirements for safety gear on the size vessel you will be using. These vary depending on the length and design of the hull. In addition, the FWC provides information on the Boating Safety Education Course that is a requirement for anyone born on or after January 1, 1988; and a good idea for us “more mature” folks too.

Even if you are not taking to the water in a powerboat, many of the same common-sense and legal requirements apply to personal watercraft, kayaks and canoes. This FWC LINK provides the requirements for class-A recreational vessels less than 16 feet in length and canoes and kayaks.

In addition to all of the “stuff” you’ll need for a good day, you should also have knowledge of the waters that you will be boating on. Appropriate navigational charts are important but first-hand knowledge is always the best. If you are not familiar with the area you are boating on, at least talk to someone you know who has been in that area. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take along this friend, who would probably enjoy a day on the water too.

When you think about it, there really is a lot of stuff to keep up with when you are going out on the water as the responsible party. But the last thing you want to do is skimp on the safety aspects of your planned adventure. You would be better off to have left your favorite rod in the garage, next to your lucky hat.


Author: Erik Lovestrand – elovestrand@ufl.edu

Erik Lovestrand

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/03/boating-safety-tips-for-reel-summer-fun/

Farmers Prepare for the New Food Safety Standards

If you are a farmer, you have most likely heard about the Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, by now. If you are not a farmer, you probably do not know that food safety regulations are going through a big change. The FSMA, which was passed in 2011, is considered the largest update to food safety regulation in over 80 years.

The proposed produce safety rule under the FSMA is very robust, establishing the minimum standards for worker training, health and hygiene, agricultural water use, animal soil amendments, on-farm domesticated and wild animals, equipment, tools, buildings, and sprout production.

But this new rule will not apply to all farmers. The commodities they produce and the value of their produce sold will ultimately dictate whether they will need to comply.

First, the rule does not apply to produce that is not a raw agricultural commodity, or commodities the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified as “rarely consumed raw.” Secondly, if a farm has an average value of produce sold of $ 25,000 or less within the previous three years, they are also exempt.

If the farmer produces an agricultural commodity in which the rule applies and the value of their produce sold is over $ 25,000, it is still possible the farm will be exempt from most of the requirements.

Fresh cucumbers, for example, are considered a raw commodity. But cucumbers that will undergo further processing, such as for pickling, would be eligible for exemption from the produce rule. Photo by Molly Jameson.

For instance, if the average annual monetary value of food sold directly to qualified end-users was more than the average annual value of the food sold to all other buyers within the previous three-year period, the farmer would meet the first half of exemption eligibility.

What is a “qualified end-user”, you ask? They are considered the consumers of the food, or restaurant or retail food establishment, located with the same state as the farm that produced the food (or no more than 275 miles).

But even if farmers meet the above exemption eligibility standards, they must also meet the second requirement. That is, the average annual monetary value of all food sold during the three-year period must be less than $ 500,000, when adjusted for inflation.

If this all sounds confusing, you are not alone! This is why the FDA developed a chart to help farmers determine if they will be exempt: Standards for Produce Safety – Coverage and Exemptions/Exclusions for Proposed 21 PART 112.

Whether farms will be exempt from the FSMA produce safety rule or not, it is always a good idea to follow good agricultural practices and to have a farm food safety plan. To learn more about food safety on farms, view the EDIS document Food Safety on the Farm: An Overview of Good Agricultural Practices.

If you are a farmer, or know someone who would benefit from having a food safety plan, the UF Small Farms Academy Extension Agents are offering a Building Your Own Farm’s Food Safety Manual Workshop in Tallahassee to help growers develop their own food safety manuals.

The workshop is tailored to fresh fruit and vegetable farms, fields, or greenhouses and is partially supported by a grant through the Florida Specialty Crops Block Grant program from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service.

The registration fee is $ 35 for the first person representing a farm and $ 15 for an additional attendee from that farm. The workshop is limited to 20 farms on a first come, first serve basis.

The workshop will take place at the Amtrak Station, County Community Room, 918 Railroad Ave, in Tallahassee, FL, on Tuesday, May 23, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Register on Eventbrite by following this link: https://farmfoodsafetymanualworkshop.eventbrite.com

Please note, this class will help farmers develop their farm’s food safety manual, but it does not fulfill the new FDA FSMA one-time training requirement.


Author: Molly Jameson – mjameson@ufl.edu

Molly Jameson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/12/farmers-prepare-for-the-new-food-safety-standards/

Farm Food Safety Certification Training – February 13

A Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training is scheduled for Monday, February 13 at the Jackson County Extension Office in Marianna, FL.  The PSA Grower Training curriculum is approved by the FDA to meet the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

Who Should Attend? – Fruit and vegetable growers with farms that have an annual value of produce sold (based on a three year average) of $ 25,000 (adjusted for inflation) or more.

Benefits to Attending – The course will cover the requirements of the FSMA produce safety rule.  It will also cover key Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that are necessary in a farm food safety plan.

Cost to Attend – The fee for the training is $ 150.  For attendees who are members of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA), a discounted rate of $ 99 is available.  (Not sure if you’re a member?  Contact Sonia Tighe at 321-214-5245 or sonia.tighe@ffva.com).  Registration fee includes the training materials, lunch, refreshments, and a Certificate of Course Attendance that complies with the training requirements of FSMA.


Registration Deadline is February 6, 2017


  • 8:30 Registration and Refreshments
  • 9:00 Welcome and Introductions
  • 9:15 Module 1: Introduction to Produce Safety
  • 10:00 Module 2: Worker Health, Hygiene, and Training
  • 11:00 Break
  • 11:15 Module 3: Soil Amendments
  • 12:00 Module 4: Wildlife, Domesticated Animals, and Land Use
  • 12:45 Lunch
  • 1:30 Module 5: Agricultural Water Part 1: Production Water
  • 2:15 Part 2: Postharvest Water
  • 3:15 Break
  • 3:30 Module 6: Postharvest Handling and Sanitation
  • 4:30 Module 7: How to Develop a Farm Food Safety Plan
  • 5:00 Final Questions and Evaluations


Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/07/farm-food-safety-certification-training-february-13/

Things You Should Know About Farm Food Safety

Things You Should Know About Farm Food Safety

It seems like years ago that the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law, but it was actually 2011.  With a new congress convening this week, and the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump on January 20th, the outlook for FSMA is unpredictable.  Whatever the future may hold, there are a number of important food safety compliance facts you should know.

Exempt/Excluded Status

Depending on the size of your farm, what you grow, or your clientele, you may be exempt or excluded from FSMA.  Whatever your status may be, it is important that you understand food safety protocol and that you proactively and reactively reduce food safety risks on your farm.

  • Farms that have an annual value of produce sold of $ 25,000 (based on a three year average, adjusted for inflation) or less are not covered by the regulation.
  • The farm must have food sales less than $ 500,000 per year (based on a three year average, adjusted for inflation) AND the farm’s direct sales to qualified end-users must exceed sales to all buyers combined during the previous three years. (A qualified end-user is either the consumer of the food or a restaurant or retail food establishment that is located in the same state or the same Indian reservation as the farm or not more than 275 miles away.)
  • Produce Not Covered by the Regulation
    • Produce commodities that FDA has identified as rarely consumed raw: asparagus; black beans, great Northern beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, and pinto beans; garden beets (roots and tops) and sugar beets; cashews; sour cherries; chickpeas; cocoa beans; coffee beans; collards; sweet corn; cranberries; dates; dill (seeds and weed); eggplants; figs; ginger; hazelnuts; horseradish; lentils; okra; peanuts; pecans; peppermint; potatoes; pumpkins; winter squash; sweet potatoes; and water chestnuts.
    • Produce that is used for personal or on-farm consumption.
    • Produce that is not a raw agricultural commodity.  (A raw agricultural commodity is any food in its raw or natural state.)
  • A farm with the qualified exemption must still meet certain modified requirements, including prominently and conspicuously displaying the name and the complete business address of the farm where the produce was grown either on the label of the produce or at the point of purchase.

Compliance Deadlines

Required compliance dates are set based on farm size – the larger the farm, the sooner it will need to be in compliance.

  • Very small businesses, defined as greater than $ 25,000 but less than $ 250,000 in average annual (previous three year period) produce sales, will need to comply with the regulation within four years.
  • Small businesses, defined as greater than $ 250,000 but less than $ 500,000 in average annual (previous three year period) produce sales, will need to comply with the regulation within three years.
  • All other businesses, defined as greater than $ 500,000 in average annual (previous three year period) produce sales, will need to comply with the regulation within two years of the effective date.
  • Compliance dates for farms eligible for qualified exemptions are:
    • Labeling requirements (if applicable): January 1, 2020
    • Retention of records supporting eligibility for a qualified exemption: Effective date of final rule (January 26, 2016)
    • For all other modified requirements for farms growing covered produce other than sprouts: Very small businesses—4 years, Small businesses—3 years

Note:  The compliance dates for certain aspects of the agricultural water requirements allow an additional two years beyond each of these compliance dates.

Washing lettuce. Photo Credit: Cornell University Extension

Employee Training

Regardless of whether your farm has implemented a food safety plan or not, the FDA requires approved training under the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.

  • At least one supervisor or responsible party from a farm subject to the FSMA Produce Safety Rule must have successfully completed food safety training, at least equivalent to the standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the FDA.
  • All workers that handle or contact covered produce or supervise workers must be trained based on FSMA standards.  Everyone working on the farm should receive annual instruction on how to accomplish his/her job.  Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) should be developed to provide clear step-by-step instructions for how workers should complete their daily tasks.
  • Visitors to the farm must be made aware of food safety policies set by the farm, and visitors must have access to toilet and handwashing facilities.

To read more on FSMA, please visit The Food Safety Modernization Act and the FDA Facility Registration Program.

An approved Food Safety Training is scheduled for February 13 in Marianna at the Jackson County Extension Office.  For more information, and to register for the training, please visit:

Farm Food Safety Certification Training – February 13




Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/06/things-you-should-know-about-farm-food-safety/

Deer Processing Safety

Deer Processing Safety

Freshly processed venison. Photo credit: Jennifer Bearden

Freshly processed venison. Photo credit: Jennifer Bearden

When hunting, food safety begins in the field. The goal is to have safe meat for you and your family to eat.  Here are a few ways to keep your food safe:

  1. Shot placement – that’s right. Food safety begins with an accurate shot. Your goal should be to prevent the contents of the digestive tract from touching the meat. A gut shot can quickly ruin meat and make cleaning the animal harder.
  2. The quicker you get the meat chilled the better. Improper temperature is meat’s number one enemy. The recommended storage temperature to prevent bacterial growth is 35-40°F.
  3. Handle the knife with one hand and the carcass with the other. The hide can harbor dirt and pathogens so care should be taken to prevent contamination of the meat.
  4. Have vinegar water and chlorine water on hand. Vinegar water (50/50) can be sprayed on areas where hair or hide touch the meat. Rinse hands and tools periodically in a bucket of sanitizing solution of 1 tbsp of chlorine per gallon of water.
  5. Think food safety through the whole process. Prevent cross contamination by keeping anything from contacting the meat unless it has been sterilized. Keep the digestive tract intact and prevent the contents of it from contacting the meat. Chill the meat as quickly as possible. When further processing, continue to use sterile surfaces and tools.

Many hunters age deer meat to increase tenderness and improve flavor. This is safe if done properly.  There are two ways to safely age meat.  Dry aging in a walk-in cooler or refrigerator is the best but not feasible for all hunters.  The walk-in cooler or refrigerator must be clean and have good air circulation and proper temperature control (34-38°F).  The meat can aged for 7-21 days depending on the amount of moisture in the cooler.  Too much moisture can increase microbial growth on the meat which should be cut away before further processing.  There will also be a layer of dry meat that will need to be cut away.

An ice chest can also be safely used to age meat. First, fill the clean ice chest with ice and water.  Add meat immediately to ice water and soak for 12-24 hours.  This will quickly cool the meat to the proper temperature.  Then drain the water out of the cooler and add more ice.  Keep cooler drained of water and full of ice for 5-7 days.  There may be “freezer burn” on the outside of the meat that can be cut away before further processing.

Remember food safety when further processing and storing. Wild game food safety begins in the field and ends with consumption.

For more information about safe handling of venison:




Author: Jennifer Bearden – bearden@ufl.edu

Agriculture Agent Okaloosa County

Jennifer Bearden

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/18/deer-processing-safety/

Older posts «