NC Produce Traceability Seminar hosted on July, 2010

On July 20, 2010, NC Farm Bureau hosted an  intensive 5-hour seminar on Produce Traceability that  included the Produce Traceability Initiative, North Carolina Traceability Benchmark Study and a look at on-the-ground Traceability Pilot programs.  Sponsorship included the NC Blueberry Council, NC Farm Bureau Federation, NC Sweet Potato Commission, NC Vegetable Growers Association in conjunction with the NC Fresh Produce Safety Task Force.

The speaker line up  and the associated PPT are included below:

Dan Vache from United Fresh and Angela Fernandez from GS1

Dr. Benjamin Chapman – Farm To Retail Produce Traceability Benchmark and Pilot Study

Andrew Kennedy – FoodLogiQ
Bob Driggers-Authentitrace
Stacy Spivey from HarvestMark

Association of Food & Drug Officials Model Code for Produce Safety

A good general resource for  understanding the entire flow of produce safety ….

The Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) developed this Model Code for Produce Safety in response to a growing number of outbreaks associated with consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Code represents the culmination of a two- year effort by a number of dedicated organizations and individuals who were asked to develop a science based regulatory framework to address the production of all fruits and vegetables, while maintaining the flexibility to appropriately address specific commodities of higher concern. It builds upon existing guidance documents and regulations; and, consistent with AFDO’s mission to promote uniform food safety laws, rules and regulations, this Model Code for Produce Safety may be viewed as another tool to assist the regulatory community in development of a nationally integrated food safety system.

More information can be found here

Click to access AFDO-Model-Code.pdf

Available Handwashing Resources



Brochure/ Handout


Power Point

  • Cornell GAPs: Reducing Microbial Risks During Harvest and Post Harvest (Available Now) Power point addressing reducing microbial risks during harvesting. Information relevant to hand washing can be found on pages 15-17.

EPA Approved Methods for Testing Drinking Water under the Total Coliform Rule

This is one reference for the analytical sampling methods approved by EPA for Drinking water.  This interprate as the methods needed to be used if potable water, dump tank water, etc is to be sampled for total coliform.  I thought this might be a useful tool as we move forward in gathering more information on the methods for anyalysis of water samples

From the publication: Analysis for the following contaminants shall be conducted in accordance with the methods in the following table or their equivalent as determined by
EPA. The methods and monitoring requirements for these contaminants are specified in 40 CFR 141.21. Additional methods are listed in Appendix A to
Subpart C of Part 141.

More on this can be found at: EPA Analytical Methods for Drinking Water Compliance Monitoring under the Total Coliform Rule

Benchmarking of Auditing Schemes

In all the discussion of food safety, the requests for specific third-party audits has frustrated growers- eventuating in growers needing to develop plans and pass multiple auditing matrix.  United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh) Food Safety & Technology Council has developed a searchable-tool that allows for side-by-side comparison of audit matrix in the hopes that this tool will allow for growers to make more informed decisions about the auditors and differences between audits.  Maybe even “push back” on a market that is requesting for yet another audit……

Check out website:

Voluntary Recall on Romaine Lettuce linked to E. coli

This recall is for products containing romaine lettuce with a use by date of May 12 or earlier because they have the potential to be contaminated with Escherichia coli O145 bacteria (E. coli O145). The products were sold under the Freshway brand and Imperial Sysco brand.

The recalled romaine lettuce products were sold to wholesalers and food service outlets in the following states east of the Mississippi river: Alabama, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The recalled romaine products were also sold for distribution to in-store salad bars and delis for Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets, and Marsh stores in the states listed.

The whole recall notice can be viewed at : FDA Recall Site

N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Training Curriculum Available for Other States

As Extension, our mission is to partner with communities to deliver education and technology that enrich the lives, land and economy of North Carolinians.  As such, the N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Training Curriculum will be made available to other partnering states.

The N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety –Field to Family GAPs curriculum has been developed for and targeted to the needs of educators such as growers, Extension agents, and other interested educators.   This curriculum will complement the GAPs and Good Handling Practices (GHPs) outlined in the FDA/USDA “Guide to Minimizing Microbial Hazards in Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.” It will also address recent needs surfacing from USDA GAPs/GHPs audits, other third-party audits and the GAPs certification process. It is designed as a train-the-trainer resource with an emphasis on increasing an understanding of the microbial risks associated with producing, harvesting, washing, sorting, packing and distributing fresh fruits and vegetables.

N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family GAPs curriculum was developed by N.C. Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University.  Partners from the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and FoodLogiQ, LLC, contributed.

The curriculum is divided into nine modules, with each module encompassing 1 to 1.5 hour blocks of instruction. Each module provides a PowerPoint presentation, PDF files with more in-depth notes and references, learned experiences/exercises and handouts when appropriate, and pre-post tests.

The educational curriculum consists of these nine modules:

  1. Fresh Produce Safety Introduction
  2. GAPs Field Practices
  3. Packing Facility Sanitation
  4. Health and Hygiene
  5. Animals, Animal Byproducts, Biosolids and Site Selection
  6. Water Quality
  7. The 3 Ts: Transportation, Traceback and Traceforward
  8. Managing Liability and Risk
  9. Dealing with Controversies and Crises: Working with the News Media

Guidelines for Use of Curriculum in North Carolina

The educational working group recommends that N.C. Cooperative Extension agents or other educators offer trainings for Tier 1 of the curriculum.  Tier 1 consists of Modules 1 through 6, and should be delivered in seven hours of instruction, covering the materials as outlined in the curriculum.  Specialists will deliver Tier 2, which consists of Modules 7 through 9 plus risk identification and management, which  will be delivered in seven hours of instruction, covering the materials as outlined in the curriculum.

Find details on the training tiers in the introduction section of the curriculum notebook.

Because N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family is a branded program, we specifically request that you use the materials as presented. We understand that presentation styles may vary, and that’s perfectly acceptable. We also are aware that educators often incorporate experiential activities to enhance the curriculum and that, too, is acceptable.  However, because this is a branded program, it is not acceptable to change the content or delete portions of the content. By your acceptance and use of this branded curriculum you should keep the curriculum intact with no revisions or adaptations.

For N.C. Cooperative Extension agents who wish to add participants to the N.C. GAPS Growers Directory on the Web site, the curriculum as published consists of the “basic minimum” that must be presented for a grower to successfully complete the requirements of Tier 1 and Tier 2.  (Agents: please use the form on the Agents Resources section of Web site.)

The curriculum has been developed and peer reviewed by subject matter experts. If you make changes to the curriculum or delete portions of the content, do not use the N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family name and logo, and do not add names to the GAPS Growers Directory. Your adherence to these guidelines helps ensure the programmatic integrity of the N.C. MarketReady brand. It also allows for the consistent and accurate sharing of program information with both internal and external audiences, including funding and industry partners, elected officials and news media outlets.

N.C. Cooperative Extension agents will find tools to help promote the training and track participation (which generates a certificate for all your participants) at . Click on Agents Only at the bottom of the left menu. You will need a Unity ID and password to access this section.  When you arrive in the Agents Only section, click on Fresh Produce Safety, then Educational Curriculum.

  • The Communications Toolkit includes summary excerpts, news releases and fliers in editable PDF format.
  • The Participation Tracking and Certificates section provides an electronic form for you to enter grower information from participants who have completed either Tier 1 or Tier 2. This information will be used for the GAPS Growers Directory, a searchable database to help buyers and others locate producers who have completed the N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family GAPs training.  The grower entry includes business name, location, contact information and crops grown.

Guidelines for Use of the Curriculum in States Other Than North Carolina

We receive and welcome requests from other states to use the N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family GAPs curriculum.  Because this is a branded program, we specifically request that you use the materials as presented. We understand that presentation styles may vary, and that’s perfectly acceptable. We also are aware that Cooperative Extension agents and other educators often incorporate experiential activities to enhance the curriculum and that, too, is acceptable.  However, because this is a branded program, it is not acceptable to change the content or delete portions of the content. By your acceptance and use of this branded curriculum you should keep the curriculum intact with no revisions or adaptations.

When using the curriculum as developed, you must use the N.C. MarketReady brand on the material.  N.C. MarketReady is a trademarked brand. However, if you adapt the material in any way, we request that you cite N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family GAPs curriculum as a resource.

The following is an acceptable acknowledgment:

N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family GAPs curriculum was used as a resource for this workshop. N.C. MarketReady is a program of N.C. Cooperative Extension.  Learn more at

PDF files of the Introduction and all of the PowerPoint Slides can be found below for review.  All modules and supplementary material is available by e-mailing Diane Ducharme, GAPS program coordinator and Extension associate in horticulture and food safety, N.C. Cooperative Extension’s N.C. MarketReady program, at













Traceability is the new buzz word.  And it is significantly scaring growers .  In NC, we have initiated a two-part study on traceability.  The goal of the first part of this project is to evaluate the status and effectiveness of grower/packer/shipper traceback programs in NC to determine their ability to respond to a traceback investigation and recommend areas for improvement.   This study is lead by Dr. Benjamin Chapman.

The goal of the second part is to develop a pilot study to  analyze the existing traceability systems of three North Carolina produce organizations and to develop guidance for North Carolina growers, packers and shippers on how to implement The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) compliant traceability efficiently and effectively based on three size appropriate templates.   These studies were conducted as a collaborative efforts between Diane Ducharme,  NCSU with the N.C. MarketReady Program  and Andrew Kennedy of FoodLogiQ in 2009 and results have been compiles in a 2-part video.  This project was funded by the USDA Rural Development Fund.

Part 1: Farm to Retail Fresh Produce Traceability Pilot – provides a guide to the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI),  highlights 3 traceability templates that can be utilized for small, medium, and large producers,  as well as an evaluation and cost analysis of these systems.

Part 2:Pilot 2: provides a look at three (3) scale-diverse organization studied for different perspectives on the PTI implementation, key internal and external challenges encountered, and important economic costs associated with the PTI.

To further advance the discussion of whole-chain traceability, the following links might be helpful:

Produce Traceability Initiative

Hearings to review the legal and technical capacity for full traceability in fresh produce

Traceability in the Food Supply Chain– DHHS; Office of Inspector General

Traceability (Product Tracing) in Food Systems: 
An IFT Report Submitted to the FDA, Volume 2: Cost Considerations
and Implications

An Analysis of the First-Order Economic Costs of the 2008 FDA Tomato  Warning* 

Scale-approriate exemptions from food safety legislation?

As S510 bill is debated, more amendments and petitions are being circulated.   In one petition, the main points of contention for small farms is the establishment of new hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls for all facilities and designation of FDA’s authority over growing and harvesting practices for produce.  For more details see posted letter from over 100 National and Multi-state organizations

Also on the post is a reference to Senator Jon Tester’s amendment to exempt small, local processing facilities with revenues below $500,000 from the bill’s hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls requirements and traceability requirements.  Our local CFSA has more information concerning the statis of this bill and remaining work to be done!  More information can be found on the Sweet Potato – sustainable food and  farming blog of the Carolinas.

Asheville Citizen Times Article- Federal Food Safety Laws

New laws could hurt Western North Carolina food producers

By Jon Ostendorff • April 13, 2010

ASHEVILLE — New federal food safety laws could drive some small producers in Western North Carolina out of business with added costs and inspections, those in the industry say.

The Senate this week could vote on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill that would require more U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspections of farms and processing facilities and stringent record keeping from producers. The agency also would have more power to order recalls.

Local producers and sellers said the law is written for big food companies and supposes the food supply will be more global in coming decades and not more local.

WNC is home to a growing food market, ranging from small kitchens making jams and jellies for sale at places like the French Broad Food Co-op in Asheville to an effort in Haywood County aimed at getting grocery stores to sell local produce.

Exact cost increases for small producers are unclear. But some of the figures, such as an annual government registration fee of $500 in the House version of the bill and mandated inspections that could run $95 an hour, threaten to drive producers making only a few thousand a year out of business, said Harry Hamil, co-owner of the Black Mountain Farmers Market.

He said the law is designed for big companies.

“Big can always afford the cost of increased regulations,” he said. “Small frequently cannot afford it. Small is where we get most of the growth in jobs in this economy.”

The law could have an impact at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, a food business incubator in Asheville that has helped more than 150 producers get started since 2005.

Small producers now have to use a government-approved kitchen to make their products. The new law would require them to develop what’s known as a hazard analysis and risk-based preventative control plan, similar to the plans required of large food companies. Creating a plan that the government would approve takes education and training and means additional expense.

Mary Lou Surgi, executive director of Blue Ridge Food Ventures, said she recently did a plan for juice production. It took two days in a classroom and about a week of research. A consultant can put a plan together for about

The plan requires producers to find and document any potential hazards in the food products they make and then create a process to mitigate each hazard. Producers must also document where their products are being sold to meet a traceability requirement. 

Surgi said those are great requirements for large companies buying ingredients from hundreds of places worldwide. But the small producer usually knows where he is buying his ingredients and might have grown some of them himself, which tends to mean a safer product.

Surgi said forcing a local producer to follow the same regulations as Pillsbury or Post will hurt the movement that has brought local foods to schools, hospitals and grocers.

“All that is put at risk if the only people who can afford to be legal are these megacorporations,” she said.

Others in the local food business are also concerned.

Chris Roland, grocery manger at French Broad Food Co-op, said he sells products from about 20 small vendors.

“I would hate to see us lose those small producers,” he said.

At Annie’s Naturally Bakery in Sylva, which is planning an expansion in West Asheville, owner Joe Ritota said more regulation is necessary for big producers, but small producers tend to be more careful. A mistake could cost them a market.

“These are small mom-and-pops that are doing something locally and sustainable,” he said.

The Senate debate on the law comes after a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report found that the FDA inspects less than one-quarter of the nation’s food producing facilities.

The department’s inspector general found more than half of the 51,229 facilities under FDA oversight have gone uninspected in the last five years. The report noted a decrease in staffing at the FDA since 2003.

The government estimates 300,000 people are hospitalized and 5,000 die each year from contaminated food.

Hamil, who said the new regulations would kill a blueberry distribution business he has started, said he supports an amendment by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., that would exempt small producers.

The small producers would continue to be regulated and inspected under current standards.

Surgi agreed.

“We all support food safety,” she said. “We just want the rules to recognize that someone making less than $50,000 in product a year incurs a lot a lot less risk that the megacorporation.”