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The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers. Visit your local county extension office.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Farm Food Safety: Plan Responsibility and Worker Education

Part 3 of Preparing Your Farm Food Safety Plan 

-Meredith Melendez and Wes Kline

The purpose of the General Questions portion of your farm food safety plan is to cover the broad details of your plan. Who is responsible and how to reach them, worker health and hygiene, pesticide usage, traceability and self auditing are the topics that should be covered. Below is an outline along with suggested wording that may work for your farm food safety plan for the first two sections, the introduction and farm worker health and hygiene.
  • Food Safety Plan Responsibility - Personnel and Contact Information
  • Farm Worker Health and Hygiene
  • Pesticide Use

The first paragraphs in this section should include the following.

- Who at the farm supervises and implements the food safety plan and how this person can be contacted in case of a problem.

- Who at the farm is the back up to the farm food safety plan supervisor and how can they be contacted in an emergency.

- The exact location of the farm and what on the farm is included in the audit.

- Indicate if you pack only your own product, or if you purchase additional product to pack.

Farm Worker Health and Hygiene

A large part of the General Questions portion of your plan should be dedicated to farm worker health and hygiene on the farm. The following are suggestions as to topics that the general questions part of your plan should include.

Employee Training/Signage

- Employees are trained and instructed on how to practice proper hygiene.

- Signs are posted at all wash stations in both Spanish and English to encourage employees and visitors to wash their hands. Sign should be posted in other languages depending on the native tongue of your workers.

- A visitor sign is posted main door explaining visitor’s responsibilities.

- A discipline policy is in place to use if an employee is found to not be following the farms food safety policy.


- Potable water is always available for employees in the packinghouse and in the fields.

- Water testing lab procedures and reports are documented.

Restrooms/Break areas

- Restrooms are cleaned and maintained on a regular basis (at least weekly)

- Restrooms are supplied with toilet paper, single use paper towels, and soap

- Hand washing facilities are supplied with water that meets the microbial standard for drinking water.

- Smoking and eating areas are separate from production and packing areas.

Employee Illness/Injury

- Employees that have diarrhea disease, or any other infections diseases, are not allowed to work directly with fresh product, but may be provided with other jobs if appropriate.

- What will your procedure be for an employee with a cut or abrasion while at work?

Example: Workers are instructed to seek prompt treatment with clean first aid supplies for cuts, abrasions and other injuries. A first aid kit is located in the packinghouse and in each field truck. Workers are required to report any injury to their supervisor who will determine if the employee can continue to work.

- Should equipment become contaminated with bodily fluids what will be done to sanitize the equipment?

Example: When blood or bodily fluid comes in contact with surfaces those surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized with a chlorine solution before using those surfaces for produce.

- Should product become contaminated with bodily fluids how will the produce be disposed of?

Example: When blood or bodily fluid comes in contact with produce, the product is immediately removed from the area in sealed plastic bags and destroyed.

Pesticide Use

- Persons applying pesticides and any post harvest materials are licensed and a copy of their license is on file. Records of agricultural pesticide usage are maintained and are held in the farm office. Pesticide method of use on the farm is governed by the pesticide label.

- Waste pesticides generated from farm use will be disposed of on-site according to the product label. Waste pesticides from a lack of use will be kept in their original containers and disposed of through EPA buy-back programs, returned to the retailer or saved for a local community hazardous waste collection program. Empty pesticide containers will be returned to the retailer when possible; otherwise the containers will be held until they can be appropriately recycled.

Next week: Answering the General Questions Portion of Your Farm Food Safety Plan – Traceback and Self-Audit