A Look Ahead At Food Safety For Commercial Greenhouse Vegetable Production

If you grow food in your greenhouse that is sold for consumption, food safety regulations will affect you. That was one of the take home messages from Debbie Hamrick’s (North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation) Cultivate’14 presentation on food safety for commercial greenhouse vegetable production. The bad news is food safety issues are just as likely to occur in greenhouses as in  open-field operations. The good news is ornamental greenhouse growers looking to produce vegetables may be ahead of the game because of the cultural practices they already use to grow flowers.

Make Good Agricultural Practices Your New Standard

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is a fact of life, Hamrick said, and growers need to start making the shift from detecting problems to preventing them through good agricultural practices (GAPs) like minimizing microbial contamination in water and establishing standard operating procedures for worker hygiene and sanitation.

Ornamental greenhouse growers are already using many of these practices, so they are a few steps ahead of open-field growers, Hamrick said. However, growers need to initiate these practices now if they are not already doing so. It is something they should have on their radar, even though implementation of the FSMA will be staggered.

Be Aware Of FSMA Deadlines

The FSMA deadline for re-proposed rules is August 2014. Final rules must be published by June 30, 2015 and everything must be in place by October 31, 2015.

Staggered implementation will be as follows:

  • 2017 (water provisions in 2019) – farms with more than $500,000 in food sales
  • 2018 (water provisions in 2020) – small businesses, ≤$500,000
  • 2019 (water provisions in 2021) – very small businesses, ≤$250,000

Six Pieces Of The Law You Should Know About

Hamrick identified five major components of the FSMA of which greenhouse growers need to be aware:

1. Training is required for all workers (full-time, part-time, seasonal, contracted) who supervise or handle produce covered under the law or contact food surfaces.
2. Water that comes into contact with produce or contact food surfaces must be free of microbial contaminants.
3. Biological Soil Amendments of animal origin (includes manures and composted manures) are regulated under the law, which includes requirements for treatment, application and time intervals between application and harvest.
4. Domesticated and Wild Animals, with the exception of on-farm domesticated working animals, are regulated under the law. Requirements are included for grazing and monitoring.
5. Equipment, Tools, Buildings and Sanitation are regulated under the law. Operations will be required to follow standard operating procedures for health and hygiene of workers and asked to prevent sick workers from handling produce. Regulations for tools and equipment that come into contact with produce or food contact surfaces will be included, as well as requirements for facilities.
6. Sprouts get special treatment for production under the law. Requirements will include testing of spent irrigation water for pathogens.

Some major decisions still need to be made, Hamrick said. For instance, will microgreens be regulated like sprouts in the future? What happens when farms share equipment or a packing shed? And, what to do about You-Pick farms?

A final take-home message from the presentation was that food safety problems do occur in greenhouse vegetable production, just as easily as they do in open-field operations. Hamrick said implementing GAPs and keeping accurate records are a grower’s insurance policy when problems do arise. Good recordkeeping is critical because it oftentimes helps decide if an operation is ruled out of an investigation or not. She emphasized that accountability at all levels of the agricultural environment is important to a successful food safety program.

Learn more about the FSMA with these resources:
Produce Safety Alliance, Cornell University
Canada GAP Food Safety Manual for Greenhouse Products
US Food and Drug Administration: Frequently Asked Questions about the FSMA

Leave a Reply

More From Vegetables...
Feature image The 2015 Perennial Plant Of The Year, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’

August 27, 2015

The Perennial Plant Association’s Regional Symposium Will Be This October In Dallas

The Perennial Plant Association plans to hold its Regional Symposium October 5 in Dallas, Texas, in conjunction with the All-America Selections/Home Garden Seed Association's Summer/Fall Summit held October 5 to 8.

Read More
september_grow_rodale institute

August 25, 2015

Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business

Growers investing in the organic food movement could serve a growing new area with vegetable transplants and starts, as well as produce, as hospitals begin to prescribe healthy diets and nutrition, and even go so far as to grow their own food. As part of a new phenomenon among progressive hospitals, health professionals are beginning to realize that without health and nutrition, programs and techniques may be done in vain or worse — obsolete. As more patients seeking a healthy diet turn to nutritionists, who recommend sugar-free, alkaline diets to prevent disease and aid in recovery, hospitals recognizing this trend are taking action. St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., recently contracted with the nearby Rodale Institute to manage an organic farm, established in 2014. The hospital, part of a six-campus network, aims to provide excellent healthcare, part of which includes educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet. […]

Read More

August 21, 2015

Proven Winners Announces Roadshow Events For 2015

Proven Winner's Roadshow Events, held across North America, provide growers and retailers with the opportunity to learn how to grow Proven Winner's newest varieties and receive information about industry trends.

Read More
Latest Stories

August 4, 2015

New 2015 California Spring Trial Edibles For The Patio …

If you are looking to capitalize on the foodie trend and spread your risk beyond Spring sales, new vegetables showcased at 2015 California Spring Trials offer plenty of opportunities to focus on unique, flavorful vegetables and edible plants that also hold ornamental value. Here are a few of new varieties Editor Laura Drotleff and Group Editor Carol Miller discovered at Spring Trials that will help diversify your crop mix.

Read More

April 20, 2015

Three Michigan State University On-Demand Webinars Offe…

The first rule of effective insect and disease control for vegetables is to take action to prevent problems before they occur. But in order to do that, you need to have an effective pest and disease management strategy in place that incorporates best practices to ensure a successful outcome. Michigan State University offers three pest and disease management on-demand webinars that will get you started and keep you on the right track.

Read More
Asian-Vegetables-Lettue-Trio-American-Takii

April 16, 2015

American Takii’s Asian Vegetable Line Is Designed…

Unlike many of the other breeders displaying at Spring Trials, American Takii didn’t have many new introductions. But it did have a new program that has prompted many visitors to post to social media — its Asian vegetables. Takii, which is well known for its vegetable breeding, is in the process of vetting the eight to 12 vegetables it will include in the program, and it should have its list fully complete by fall 2015. It is selecting plants that will be easy to use in Asian cooking and will help it stand out from the many vegetable programs in the ornamental market. The Takii marketing team designed bright-red Chinese food takeout containers to act as plant sleeves and a small booklet with five recipes. Honey Chicken With Pak Choy looked especially tasty. Take a look at how the program looks and let us know what you think.       HilverdaKooij is a […]

Read More
Zucchini 'Brice' (Syngenta Vegetables)

April 14, 2015

18 New Vegetables For Easy Growing And Healthy Eating

Current breeding efforts have focused on vegetable varieties that cater to small space and urban gardening trends and offer consumers good performance with minimal efforts. As a result, new, easy care vegetable introductions packed with flavor and loaded with fruits have swept onto the market. Here are 18 of the newest vegetables already on the market or hitting the market in 2016.

Read More

April 13, 2015

Keeping Your Greenhouse Vegetables And Fruits Safe: Ove…

This is the first installment of a four-part series that will bring you up to speed on what it takes to fulfill food safety mandates for greenhouse production.

Read More

April 10, 2015

5 Selection Principles For Vegetables That Sell

You gain a competitive edge when you select vegetable varieties that are right for your greenhouse and right for your customers. Here are five pieces of advice from breeders to help you stay ahead of the game.

Read More
Basil_Persian-AAS2015_620x329

March 31, 2015

California Summer Vegetable Trials To Be Hosted By Nati…

Vegetable breeding companies will come together this August to host the Summer Vegetable Trials in California. Like the long-standing California Spring Trials that are held annually in California, attendees will have the opportunity to visit breeding companies' trial sites in seven locations throughout the state, from August 20-21, 2015. National Garden Bureau (NGB), the non-profit organization promoting gardening on behalf of the horticulture industry, is organizing and publicizing this event on behalf of its members.

Read More

November 24, 2014

Root Crops And Plug Trays: A Perfect Match

Growing a plant to maturity in plug trays might be foreign to ornamental growers, but with a little help from plug tray manufacturers and breeders, there is little to hold growers back in this root crop category.

Read More

November 14, 2014

First Vegetatively Propagated All-America Selections (A…

All-America Selections (AAS) honors two vegetatively propagated impatiens with AAS winner status.

Read More

October 8, 2014

Gotham Greens To Build Rooftop Farm In Chicago

Gotham Greens announced October 7 that it has partnered with Method Products, an eco-friendly cleaning product company - to build what they are calling the "world's largest rooftop farm" at Method's new manufacturing plant in the Pullman neighborhood, on Chicago's south side.

Read More

August 19, 2014

A Look Ahead At Food Safety For Commercial Greenhouse V…

If you grow food in your greenhouse that is sold for consumption, food safety regulations will affect you. Here is a recap of Debbie Hamrick’s (North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation) Cultivate'14 presentation on food safety for commercial greenhouse vegetable production.

Read More

July 22, 2014

Bright Farms Launches Crowdfunding Campaign To Build Ur…

Urban farming pioneer Bright Farms is attempting to crowdfund what it hopes will be the "world's most productive urban farm," in Washington, D.C.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Go Green Agriculture In…

Read about how Go Green Agriculture Inc. took its business from the classroom to commercial reality in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Peace Tree Farm

Interest and response to Peace Tree Farm’s annuals and foliage plants continues to increase, but herb and vegetable starter plants is where the company makes its money. Read about it in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: High Meadows Farm

Grants brought opportunities for High Meadows Farm to start growing raspberries and tomatoes. Read about it in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Altman Plants

Read about Altman Plants' venture into greenhouse vegetable production in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 15, 2014

Cultivate’14: Vegetable Production Tour Highlight…

Check out photos from Greenhouse Grower's visit to CropKing Inc.'s research greenhouses as part of he vegetable production tour at Cultivate'14.

Read More

July 8, 2014

Veterans Are Well-Suited For Grower Jobs, And AgVets Is…

AgVets is breaking ground this summer with the first of up to 30 hydroponic greenhouse operations located throughout the country to provide produce to lower- and middle-income consumers.

Read More