New Leafy Greens website, tools offer greater flexibility
The Arizona Food Safety Training Committee (Arizona LGMA) is eager to share its latest news with industry as it prepares for the produce trade industry’s largest trade show of the year: in a groundbreaking move with the Arizona State Department of Agriculture, all elements of the Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Training Kit are available for purchase and immediate download through a secure online portal from its new website, www.arizonaleafygreens.org.
“We began a process two years ago to make the Food Safety Training Kit (FSTK) available online, in our ongoing quest to make this universal program as flexible and accessible as possible,” said Vicki-Lynne Scott, technical subcommittee chairperson and board member of the Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee. “With anticipated FSMA standards, employing our practices now can give farmers and harvesters a head start when compliance deadlines come closer.”
The online store at www.arizonaleafygreens.org is the first time the Arizona Department of Agriculture has ventured into online commerce. The store offers the entire Food Safety Training Kit for the introductory price of $499, which includes all materials in both English and Spanish (workplace posters, tailgate flip charts, DVDs, training binders, etc.), as well as a la carte pricing for supplemental materials starting at just $5.
At United Fresh, attendees can purchase the entire kit, with all camera-ready materials, on a thumb drive. The FSTK can also be acquired electronically through a secure web link or via FedEx shipping. The site takes major credit cards. Traditional purchases can still be made with a purchase order or electronic check.
Scott and Arizona Leafy Greens Program Administrator Teressa Lopez will be at United Fresh to demo the materials, alongside Arizona’s counterparts from California LGMA.
The organization’s comprehensive Food Safety Training Program is targeted to harvest supervisors and foremen, food safety coordinators, production supervisors, quality control personnel, extension educators and/or industry consultants who conduct food safety training at leafy greens farms, and is specifically targeted at those who handle leafy greens before, during or after harvest. The program was designed to ensure compliance with federal regulations for food safety, including anticipated Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) standards.
“Our training program has become a model in the industry, with the FDA even suggesting coordination with Arizona and our California counterpart on ensuring compliance with new FSMA rules for food safety.”
Earlier this year, Arizona Leafy Greens introduced Module 4 to its comprehensive program. Pre-Harvest and Daily Harvest Environmental Assessments addresses the industry’s need to train those responsible for monitoring potential environmental contaminants. The highly technical module is specifically designed for those in supervisory roles and personnel who conduct daily field assessments, providing templates to encourage uniformity in monitoring. The development of Module 4 coincided with the production and launch of a bilingual DVD series, a plug-and-play version of the entire FSTK.
The six-chapter video series was shot on-site at farms throughout Arizona, and closely follows the format of the Arizona Leafy Greens’ Food Safety Training Kit. It features a general orientation, and chapters on foodborne outbreaks, leafy greens contaminants, personal hygiene, hand washing and cross-contamination in the field. The videos are produced in both English and Spanish, and range in length from five to 12 minutes. The video series was made possible in part by a USDA specialty crop block grant awarded to fund various initiatives that strengthen and expand economic opportunities for local and regional producers.
The Food Safety Training Kit (FSTK) is a comprehensive training tool that addresses safe food handling practices in the field. The bilingual program has been widely used by the leafy greens industry, and serves as a model for creating uniform standards and practices. Various components of the Food Safety Training Kit were named finalists for “best new food safety solution” at United Fresh 2012 and 2014.
The program was developed in collaboration with Sergio Nieto-Montenegro, Ph.D. of El Paso, Texas-based Food Safety Consulting & Training Solutions.