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Video Series: Food Safety for Wash-Pack Facilities

Robert Hadad, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Cornell Vegetable Program

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.

Part 1: Principles of Food Safety for Wash-Pack Facilities
For any subject, it's important to start with the basics. In Part 1 you'll learn about the three types of pathogens that can contaminate produce. We'll identify how contamination can enter into the wash/pack facility via workers, water, soil amendments, animals, and tools. For mitigating risks, one of the easiest ways workers can reduce the chance of foodborne pathogens entering into the wash/pack line is by following everyday health and hygiene practices. In Part 1 we'll go through all of the personal hygiene expectations that you should have for your workers, and for yourself. 

Part 2: The Ideal Wash/Pack Facility
Whether you're currently dreaming about a wash/pack facility, or already have one up and running, it's important to set aside time to think about how design and layout can impact food safety. There is no one "ideal" wash/pack facility layout, but there are number of modifications that can be made to greatly reduce food safety risks. In Part 2 we'll outline the 5 Principles of Hygienic Design, the benefits of ergonomics, and how general layout can impact cleaning efforts, worker safety, and efficiency. We'll also dive into some detailed considerations for walls, lighting, flooring, drainage, storage, pest management, and more. 

Part 3: Post-Harvest Water Management
The source and quality of the water used for washing produce is critical for food safety. In part 3, we'll review the different sources of water typically found on the farm and how "risky" they are when used to wash produce. Food safety risks related to water can further be reduced when we understand the concept of infiltration and the benefits of using sanitizers in wash water. We'll also cover a number of factors that can influence sanitizer efficacy - following label instructions, monitoring sanitizer levels, water temperature, pH, and turbidity. Finally we'll highlight all of the different ways you could wash produce and the pros, cons, and food safety considerations of each. 

Part 4: Cleaning and Sanitizing
What's the difference between cleaning and sanitizing? How can I clean my wash/pack equipment if I don't typically introduce water into the wash/pack line? How do I clean harvest bins, equipment, greens spinners, etc?  Can I use my power washer? All of these questions and more will be answered in Part 4. We'll walk you through the steps of cleaning and sanitizing, introduce the concept of "dry cleaning", and will point out some key things you should know about cleaning and sanitizing different items in your wash/pack facility.

Part 5: Cleaning Common Wash/Pack Equipment
Cleaning - a topic so important for wash/pack facilities that we're going to cover it in TWO sessions. In Part 5 we're going to tackle cleaning larger wash/pack equipment like root barrel washers and brush washers. Cleaning this type of equipment is much more involved - more tools, more time, more attention to detail. We'll also discuss the difference between "thorough or deep" cleaning and "maintenance or routine" cleaning and underline why both types of cleaning are needed for larger, heavily used cleaning equipment. Throughout Part 5 we'll highlight some of the tools that the Cornell Vegetable Program has trialed, tips and tricks for cleaning items like absorber donuts and give you an estimate on just how much time it will take to clean this type of equipment. 



Transcript: Part 1: Principles of Food Safety for Wash-Pack Facilities (pdf; 511KB)

Transcript: Part 2: The Ideal Wash-Pack Facility (pdf; 407KB)

Transcript: Part 3: Post-Harvest Water Management (pdf; 371KB)

Transcript: Part 4: Cleaning and Sanitizing (pdf; 566KB)

Transcript: Part 5: Cleaning Common Wash/Pack Equipment (pdf; 581KB)

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Upcoming Events

Cattaraugus Fresh Market Vegetable Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

June 29, 2022
East Otto, NY

This produce walk will feature peer-to-peer learning. All attendees should wear long pants. Free to attend. 2.0 DEC credits in categories 1a, 10, and 23.

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Orleans Fresh Market Vegetable Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 6, 2022
Albion, NY

This produce walk will feature peer-to-peer learning. All attendees should wear long pants. Free to attend. 2.0 DEC credits requested in categories 1a and 23.

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Chautauqua Vegetable Grower Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 12, 2022
Frewsburg, NY

This meeting will feature a fresh market field walk to facilitate grower-to-grower learning. All attendees should wear long pants. Free to attend. 2.0 DEC credits requested in categories 1a and 23. 

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Announcements

Lorsban is Banned: What Now?

Cabbage maggot (CM) feeds on brassica seedlings by tunneling into the stem of the plant just below the soil line. Their feeding can result in unsightly and unmarketable produce in the case of root brassicas like turnips, and in stunting, reduced stand, and reduced yield in head and stem brassicas like cabbage and broccoli. Lorsban and other formulations containing the active ingredient chlorpyrifos were the first line of defense for control of cabbage maggot in several brassica crops, because 1) at ~$10 per acre, it was affordable, and 2) it was easy to apply and avoided worker exposure as a directed spray at the base of the plant.

Unfortunately, Lorsban and all of its generic products for food and feed uses were banned in New York as of July 31, 2021, and in the United States as of February 28, 2022. In the absence of Lorsban and other chlorpyrifos-containing insecticides, NY brassica growers have 6 products belonging to 4 chemical classes available to manage cabbage maggot. This article, Lorsban is Banned: How to Control Cabbage Maggot in Brassicas Now?, written by Cornell Vegetable Program Specialist Christy Hoepting and Brian Nault of Cornell AgriTech, provides our "2022 Top Picks" to use instead of Lorsban plus results of Cornell research trial results related to application method, rate, and cabbage maggot control.


Propagating Strawberry Plants Through Runners

The production of strawberry plants is challenging due to the rigorous sanitation needs that must be met, especially in field propagation settings, but also in greenhouse settings. To add to that, growers in New York may find it more difficult to obtain their preferred strawberry varieties in the coming years, as fewer nurseries are propagating strawberries. The solution: strawberry plug plants propagated from runners in a controlled environment such as a greenhouse or high tunnel.

Plug production of rarer varieties that do well in New York State will fetch a higher price than dormant bare-root plants due to the higher cost of production and lower availability in the Northeast, especially if plants are available in August. Propagating Strawberry Plants Through Runners, written by Anya Osatuke of CCE Harvest NY and Brad Bergefurd of The Ohio State University, only discusses production and marketing potential of plug plants because successful field production of bare-root strawberries is very difficult to achieve without the use of highly restricted soil fumigants. 



Cornell Commercial Vegetable Guidelines Available

The 2022 Cornell Integrated Crop and Pest Management Guidelines for Commercial Vegetable Production are now available!

Written by Cornell University specialists, this publication is designed to offer producers, seed and chemical dealers, and crop consultants practical information on growing and managing vegetable crops in New York State. Topics include general culture, nutrient management, transplant production, postharvest handling, organic production, and managing common vegetable crop pest concerns. A preview of the Vegetable Guidelines can be seen online.

Cornell Crop and Pest Management Guidelines are available as a print copy ($43.50), online-only access ($43.50), or a package combining print and online access ($61.00). Shipping charges will be added to your order. Cornell Guidelines can be obtained through many local Cornell Cooperative Extension offices (call to confirm availability), or from The Cornell Store at Cornell University or call (844) 688-7620.


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