Over the last two years, AUFSI and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) have been collaborating with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) to develop a statewide Produce Safety Program that aligns with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) nationwide Produce Safety Rule. The rule includes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables. Through the collaborative project, which ends in 2021, AUFSI, ACES, and ADAI will ultimately provide education, outreach, technical assistance, and training to farmers that handle produce covered under the rule. AUFSI’s main role is to develop the training and education materials (online courses, face-to-face training materials, assessment, etc.) by working closely with both ADAI and ACES.
The program will include regulator training to help ensure long-term enforcement of the Produce Safety Rule in Alabama. The team first completed a needs assessment for a Produce Safety Program and then will spend the next few years carrying out program training and education activities. These efforts will move the state of Alabama into the national Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS) and effectively fulfill the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Other states are simultaneously developing similar programs.