Food safety for small and developing farms:What is missing and how can we improve? Kristen E. Gibson, PhD University of Arkansas Department of Food Science Center for Food Safety Arkansas Association of Food Protection Annual Meeting September 13, 2011
Why is this important?• Local (“slow”) food movement• Increase in farmers’ markets• More small farms• Increase in produce consumption• Foodborne disease outbreaks (FBDO) frequently linked to fresh produce
Local Foods • What is the definition of local food? – Geographical location • 100 miles, 400 miles, within the same state – Type of production • Sustainable – Length of supply chain – Personality and ethics of the grower – Production sizeDefinition used may vary by consumer, supplier, buyer, and related regulatory agencies and organizations.
Farmers’ Markets• USDA reported 16% growth from 2009 to 2010• 3.5 fold increase since 1994As of August 2011, more than 1,000 new farmers’ markets reported across the U.S. revealing a 17% growth.
Small Farms • Definition varies by amount in sales per year – < $1,000,000 (large retailer) – < $500,000 (Food Safety Modernization Act) – < $250,000 (National Commission on Small Farms) – < $50,000 (ERS/USDA) • Comprised 88% of U.S. Farms in 2007 – 5.7% of small farms grow high value crops (vegetables, fruit, and tree nuts)Source: Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report, 2010 Edition, EIB-66
Fresh Produce• Steady increase in consumption over past 20 years – 120 lb2 to 140 lb2 per capita• Three-fold increase in leafy vegetable consumption• 1 in 6 U.S. consumers make it a priority to buy local – Fruits and vegetables at top of list – Produce sales account for over half of direct sales to consumers at farmers’ markets.
FBDO and Fresh Produce in the U.S. (1990-2006) RANK COMMODITY PATHOGEN OUTBREAKS ILLNESSES % OF PRODUCE (by risk) OUTBREAKS a 1 Greens Salad Norovirus 165 5,840 21.4% 2 "Fruit” Salad Norovirus 34 2,031 4.4% 3 Lettuce Norovirus 32 1,052 4.2% 4 Sprouts Salmonella 25 1,879 3.3% 5 Mushrooms Chemicals/Toxins 20 98 2.6% 6 Greens Salad Salmonella 19 1,030 2.5% 7 Tomatoes Salmonella 17 1,943 2.2% 8 Lettuce E. coli 17 544 2.2% 9 Melon Salmonella 16 1,137 2.1% 10 Greens Salad E. coli 16 724 2.1% During production or preparation…???? Rise in FBDO due to increase in contamination, consumption, or detection…????Source: Outbreak Alert! 2008 Center for Science in the Public Interest
Local Food Key Players Supplier BuyerLarge Small Retail Direct Medium
Food Safety Focus SupplierLarge Small Medium No unified definition Livestock Crops
Food Safety Focus SupplierLarge Small Medium High Risk No unified Berries definition Cucumbers Livestock Crops Green onions Herbs Leafy greens Melons Fruits and Vegetables Mushrooms Nuts Papayas Sprouts Tomatoes
Food Safety Focus Supplier BuyerLarge Small Retail Direct Medium No unified definition Livestock Crops Fruits and Vegetables
Food Safety Focus Supplier BuyerLarge Small Retail Direct Medium Local Nat’l No unified definition Livestock Crops Fruits and Vegetables
Food Safety Focus Supplier BuyerLarge Small Retail Direct Medium Local Nat’l Farmers’ CSA No unified Markets definition Livestock Crops Fruits and Vegetables
Food Safety Focus Supplier BuyerLarge Small Retail Direct Medium Local Nat’l Farmers’ CSA No unified Markets definition Livestock Crops Food safety requirements are not the same. Fruits and Vegetables
Spectrum of Food Safety Requirements• To sell “high risk” fresh 58 produce to a large, wholesale or retail buyer: 80 – Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Program • Third-party GAPs certification should be 24 completed • GlobalG.A.P. • Intermediate Level AssessmentMore than 160 control points for Source: http://www.globalgap.org/cms/front_content.php?idart=1353intermediate level audit required to sell fruits and vegetables.
Spectrum of Food Safety Requirements• To sell “high risk” fresh produce at a Farmers’ Market or CSA – No universal standard – Requirements vary by market • Depends on state and market manager initiative • Markets often offer recommendations – Farmers accustomed to complete freedom in how they grow and harvestNo required control points besides visual assessment of farm by farmers market operators (?)
Is there even a food safety issue on small farms? • Small to medium-sized farms surveyed (n = 226): – More than 45% wait less than 120 days between application of manure and harvest – More than 25% and 15% use untested water for irrigation and washing produce, respectively – About half harvest crops with bare hands – Over 40% do not sanitize surfaces that contact produce at the farm – Only 33% always clean transport containers between useSource: IAFP 2011 Poster Presentation. Harrison et al. “Survey of Food Safety Practices on Small to Medium-sized Farms and in Small Farmers’ Markets” P2-60
Small and developing farmers areeager to learn and want to provide a safe product, but is the right information reaching them?
How do we bridge the “GAP”?• Be PROactive – EVERY farm should have a food safety program or plan regardless of size and customer base • Start with standard operating procedures (SOPs) based on simple, common sense practices and then easier to scale-up – Buyers should provide resources to help farms-- regardless of size--succeed and pass third-party audits • Small and developing farms often fail the risk assessment and documentation aspects of certification
Resources for Small Farms• TONS of information available – National GAPs Program (Cornell University) • Online based programs • Downloadable materials – FamilyFarmed.org (USDA funded website) • Online tool to help create personalized on farm food safety plan (Beta version) • “Wholesale Success” – Growing for Market (membership website) Some farmers may want a more interactive option.
How does the farmer know where to start and then how to implement?
Local farms need local resources…• Small Farms Academy – University of Florida Extension program could be used as a model – Offer workshops on risk assessment and developing on-farm SOPs – Cater to region-specific topics QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.• Local Food Safety Roundtables – Model after University of Arkansas HACCP roundtables for poultry industry • Farmers • Extension specialists • Regulatory experts • Industry buyers • Market managers • Health department• Develop searchable databases specific to small farm GAPs – State-by-state difference in needs and most relevant food safety issues.