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Food Safety

CVP Food Safety

Farm food safety begins with Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs): the basic environmental and operational conditions that are necessary for the production of safe fruits and vegetables.

Farmers need to take steps to minimize pathogen contamination during production and harvest of their fresh produce. They should avoid side-dressing with manure, exclude animals near fields, promote proper worker hygiene in the field, test irrigation water quality, select irrigation methods that minimize crop wetting or allows for leaves to dry quickly, clean and sanitize harvest bins, promote cleanliness at U-Pick, and keep produce cool.

As consumers demand safer food, a growing number of retailers are requiring farmers to have independent, 3rd-party inspections of farms, certifying that their fruits and vegetables are being grown, harvested and packaged using Good Agricultural Practices.






Relevant Events

Assess and Prevent Food Safety Risks in Leafy Greens Production

March 18, 2021

Wash/Pack Hygiene and Sanitation Training

April 1, 2021

Video Series: Food Safety for Wash-Pack Facilities

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: September 3, 2020

Wash/pack facilities are bottlenecks -- all produce on the farm may need to go through the facility, and the smallest amount of contamination could escalate into a much bigger contamination event under the right conditions. This is why it's critical that food safety practices be implemented to ensure that foodborne pathogens are not introduced or spread as produce is sorted, graded, washed, and packed. To help you understand how wash/pack facilities can be sources of foodborne pathogens, Robert Hadad and Caitlin Tucker have developed a 5-part online video resource.


Video Series: Essentials of Food Safety for Farmworkers

Last Modified: June 8, 2020
Video Series: Essentials of Food Safety for Farmworkers

We all know that farm employees have many crucial roles on the farm, including carrying out food safety policies and practices. However, their ability to do that effectively, depends heavily on the quality of the training they receive. To meet the growing need for online, easily accessible resources, Robert Hadad and Caitlin Tucker have designed "Essentials of Food Safety for Farmworkers", a 5-part video series that covers many of the required worker training topics set forth by FSMA (the Food Safety Modernization Act), or other 3rd party auditing programs. 


Cleaning Produce Washing Equipment: Brush Washer Conveyor System Checklist

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: November 11, 2019
Cleaning Produce Washing Equipment: Brush Washer Conveyor System Checklist

As we learn more about reducing microbial risk on the produce farm, more emphasis is being placed on cleaning food contact surfaces. Accessing the hard to reach spaces in wash line equipment is challenging. Most of the equipment was not made to come apart very easily or in an economically efficient manner. The checklist provided here has been developed through hands-on research cleaning equipment as thoroughly as can be measured without doing microbial testing. That level of cleaning is still being researched but, from our work, the level of cleanliness provided here appears to be sufficient.


Cleaning Produce Washing Equipment: Root Barrel Washer Checklist

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: November 11, 2019
Cleaning Produce Washing Equipment: Root Barrel Washer Checklist

Months of research was conducted on a root barrel washer to determine the best way to clean the equipment given that it was not designed to be easily taken apart and cleaned. Hard-to-reach places were identified through the tracking of vegetable matter and debris dispersed within the barrel washer during use. An acceptable level of cleanliness completed in a reasonable amount of time was identified. The equipment cleanliness was based on visual criteria only; further investigation of the microbial level is still required. To the best of our efforts, areas of critical cleaning are identified in this checklist as well as all other sections necessary to clean.


Cleaning Produce Washing Equipment: SOPs for Cleaning Other Wash Line Equipment

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: April 10, 2019
Cleaning Produce Washing Equipment: SOPs for Cleaning Other Wash Line Equipment

In the wash/pack shed, a variety of large and small equipment can be found. All need cleaning. Here is a group of cleaning SOPs for growers to use as examples for writing their own to meet their specific needs. We also provide instructions for preparing sanitizer solution for a pump sprayer used to clean produce washing equipment.


How to Wash Produce Using a Peracetic Acid (PAA) Solution

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: April 17, 2018
How to Wash Produce Using a Peracetic Acid (PAA) Solution

This how-to guide will take you through the steps necessary to wash produce in a food safe manner. From calculation of sanitizer rates to washing procedures, many variables can affect the safety of produce on your farm. The guide details the materials you will need, preparation, calculating and mixing the peracetic acid solution, washing produce, and testing turbidity.


Food Safety Plan Template

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: December 22, 2017
Food Safety Plan Template

Writing a food safety plan for your farm will help you implement the practices later. To ease the burden of trying to figure out what to write for in a plan, we have created a template for you to use.


Set Up an Efficient Wash/Pack Facility

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: November 28, 2017
Set Up an Efficient Wash/Pack Facility

The goal of this document is to provide more detail on setting up an efficient wash/pack facility with a focus on farm food safety and maintaining post-harvest quality. Of course, each farm will have unique circumstances and need different pieces of equipment. The idea here is think about the way to use a space to your best advantage. A facility should be set up to wash and move produce efficiently while getting the job done effectively. Whether you are adapting a currently existing space or starting from scratch, you can use this document to plan as close to the ideal situation as possible. You can customize to your specific situation, budget and needs.


NY Water Testing Labs for Food Safety Use

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: January 5, 2017
NY Water Testing Labs for Food Safety Use

A PDF list of water testing labs for agricultural and farm food safety uses in NY (assembled Summer 2016). 


Cold Storage Chart and Reference Guide to Commercial Vegetable Storage

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: December 13, 2016
Cold Storage Chart and Reference Guide to Commercial Vegetable Storage

Commercial vegetable growers will find a Cold Storage Chart by crop type with temperature and relative humidity recommendations. The maximum number of weeks that the crop can be held under ideal conditions is provided as well.

Adapted from the USDA Bulletin #66, The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stock, growers will find information on quality, grading, sizes, and packaging, chilling and storage, and post-harvest pathology of vegetables.


Crop Cooling and Storage

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: September 29, 2016
Crop Cooling and Storage

On-Farm Cold Storage of Fall-Harvested Fruit and Vegetable Crops is an in-depth look at the planning and designing cooling for late season and winter storage but it also is useful for general cooling as well. This was written by Scott Sanford, Distinguished Outreach Specialist, UW-Extension, and John Hendrickson, Outreach Program Manager, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Material List and Cost Calculator for Building a Wash Table and Aerator

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: March 16, 2016
Material List and Cost Calculator for Building a Wash Table and Aerator

Our model wash table was built from parts purchased entirely from a decently stocked hardware store. The list contains all the components we used to build the main table, the side modular tables, and the "dirty table". Also listed are the prices we paid to give you an idea of a building price. The real goal for these tables is to demonstrate that it doesn't require high priced equipment to get started in setting up an easily cleanable wash line set-up. The idea is to have something usable whether it is indoors or outside under canopies. The key is having the tables and equipment that can be easily cleaned and sanitized while being low-cost, easy to build, and totally functional.


Video: Produce Washing Stations - How to Use a Germicidal Bleach

Last Modified: January 26, 2016
Video: Produce Washing Stations - How to Use a Germicidal Bleach

Good Agricultural Practices or GAPs are the steps taken in produce packing areas to reduce microbial contamination. One area where reducing micro contamination is critical is in the washing and cleaning of produce. This video shows you a set of standard operating procedures for using a germicidal bleach in a produce washing station. Learn what supplies are required and how to calculate the amount of germicidal bleach needed to sanitize the water.


Cost Calculator: Three Basin Produce Washing

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: November 25, 2015
Cost Calculator: Three Basin Produce Washing

Need to know how much it will cost to run a wash line for vegetable and adding sanitizers to the water? This spreadsheet that will give you the breakdown of costs based on the type of sanitizer chosen and will further provide how the costs are divided over each step of post-harvest washing and handling. 


Sanitizer Dose Calculation Spreadsheet

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: November 25, 2015
Sanitizer Dose Calculation Spreadsheet

Want to quickly figure out the sanitizer dose needed for various types of sanitizer for your wash line tanks/tubs/ or basins? This handy tool will give you that information without all that messy algebra everyone has forgotten from high school. Attached to this spreadsheet tool is a chart that provides the concentrations of sanitizer needed for large volumes of wash water. This spreadsheet was also created by Chris Callahan, UVM Extension.


Crop Cooler Storage Planner

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: November 24, 2015
Crop Cooler Storage Planner

This tool will help vegetable farmers figure out their cooler storage needs as well as be able to quickly see the refrigeration capacity to cool their harvest. This tool was created by Chris Callahan, AG Engineer, Univ. VT


Recommendations for Cleaning and Storing Your Harvest Containers and Tools

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: June 19, 2015
Recommendations for Cleaning and Storing Your Harvest Containers and Tools

Harvest containers and tools can contaminate your produce. Prior to use, harvest containers and tools should be washed and sanitized. When not in use, it is important that they are stored in designated locations where they cannot be used for any other purpose and secure from animal contamination.


Video: Farm Food Safety as if Someone's Life Depended On It

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: April 3, 2015
Video: Farm Food Safety as if Someone's Life Depended On It

This video is an overview of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) through on-farm risk assessment. Cornell Cooperative Extension, along with the National GAPs Program and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, has developed and implemented a nationally-recognized training program in GAPs to prepare New York growers for the marketplace's increased vigilance in food safety. You can learn more about that program through this video, as well as updates on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and economic information on the implementation of GAPs collected from growers through extensive interviews.


Building an Easy Clean Produce Wash Table

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: April 1, 2015
Building an Easy Clean Produce Wash Table

Farmers are inventive people. When faced with a problem, their creative minds fire up and come up with solutions. This project is the result of discussions with farmers about food safety on their wash lines. Many farms work with a harvest volume that doesn't warrant automated washing and packing equipment, but these famers still need a system to transform field harvested produce into saleable product. We designed this wash-line plan for small-scale farmers who wish to increase their efficiency and minimize microbial risk in post-harvest handling. The modular wash line plan shows that incorporating food safety practices can be affordable. Farmers can creatively minimize microbial risk cost.


Wash Your Greens: A Low-Cost but Effective Washer/Spinner Design

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: March 26, 2015
Wash Your Greens: A Low-Cost but Effective Washer/Spinner Design

Farm Food Safety practices not only reduces the risk of microbial contamination that can lead to food-borne diseases but can also improve the post-harvest quality of washed vegetables. There are many issues dealing with farm food safety and a lot of research going on. One area centers on low-cost but effective equipment options. Dr. Jay Neal from the University of Houston has designed a greens washer/spinner built from PVC and using a 5 gallon bucket with lid. One of our farmers has built a model and modified the instructions to make building and usage easier.


Food Safety Considerations and Design for Packing Sheds

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: February 16, 2015
Food Safety Considerations and Design for Packing Sheds

A packing shed schematic showing considerations for Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs).


Sample SOPs on Hand Washing and On-Farm Injury

Last Modified: February 15, 2015
Sample SOPs on Hand Washing and On-Farm Injury

E. A. Bihn, M.A. Schermann, A. L. Wszelaki, G. L. Wall, and S. K. Amudson, 2013:
Sample Standard Operating Producer (SOP) that describes the correct method of hand washing for workers and visitors.

Sample SOP that describes what to do when an injury occurs on the farm.



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Asparagus

Asparagus

Beets

Beets

Broccoli

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Cabbage

Carrots

Carrots

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Dry Beans

Dry Beans

Eggplant

Eggplant

Ethnic Vegetables

Ethnic Vegetables

Garlic

Garlic

Horseradish

Horseradish

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Leeks

Leeks

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Melons

Melons

Onions

Onions

Parsnips

Parsnips

Peas

Peas

Peppers

Peppers

Potatoes

Potatoes

Pumpkins / Gourds

Pumpkins / Gourds

Radishes

Radishes

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Rutabaga

Rutabaga

Snap Beans

Snap Beans

Squash - Summer

Squash - Summer

Squash- Winter

Squash- Winter

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Sweet Potatoes

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Tomatoes

Tomatoes

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more crops

Upcoming Events

Managing Soil Nitrogen in Winter High Tunnels

March 5, 2021

To meet the year-round demand for locally produced food, vegetable farmers have embraced protected agriculture to extend their growing season, improve yields, and enhance crop quality. However, a statewide survey found that after several growing seasons, farmers struggle to maintain productivity due to challenges in long term soil health and fertility management. Cornell Cooperative Extension is exploring practices that high tunnel growers can adopt to better manage soil fertility and improve soil health.

Grab your lunch and join us for a virtual conversation on Friday, March 5, 2021 from 12:00pm - 1:30pm to hear our project updates and research results.

view details

Assess and Prevent Food Safety Risks in Leafy Greens Production

March 18, 2021

This training will provide an overview of possible sources of contamination related to soil amendments, wildlife, water, post-harvest handling, transportation and more. This training will emphasize specific risks that leafy greens growers may experience, identify tangible corrective actions that can be taken, and provide participants the opportunity to work through example scenarios as a group.

view details

2021 NYS Dry Bean Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

March 19, 2021

Join the us for the annual Dry Bean Meeting! There will be presentations covering the latest research in NY dry beans. Topic areas include market updates, white mold management, Western bean cutworm and soybean cyst nematode management, herbicide resistance management, dry bean variety testing, and incorporating NY dry beans into schools. This meeting is sponsored by Genesee Valley Bean Company, and Bayer CropScience.

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Announcements

Essentials of Farm Food Safety for Farmworkers

Call to Schedule a Tailored Training for Your Farm Workers
This is a training is brought to you by the CCE Cornell Vegetable Program. Workers will learn the importance of farm food safety and the ins and outs of how it works on the farm and field.

This training aims to cover many of the required worker training topics set forth by GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices and FSMA (the Food Safety Modernization Act), or other 3rd party auditing programs. This training series primarily focuses on training farmworkers in the produce industry. Because Food Safety is a company-wide responsibility, we invite all farm employees to participate in this training. Each farm has unique operating practices but the basics of food safety are critical skill set needed for workers to have if a smoothly operating food safety program is going to work on your farm. Topics covered include:
  • Understand the role of worker training in ensuring food safety on your farm
  • Cover all the important points required for training
  • Identify challenges to consider when training workers and discuss solutions
  • Cover required records for training
  • Introduce resources available to managers to assist in training
  • Why is farm food safety important?
  • How does produce become contaminated?
  • What are the signs that you or a coworker are ill?
  • How can you minimize food safety risks on the farm?
  • What should you do if you see a risk you cannot reduce or eliminate?
  • And much more
We can provide a tailored training for your workers through an online program before the season starts or combine workers with another farm to do a larger training. Contact Robert Hadad for more information.

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