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FSMA Trainings and Farm Food Safety Updates

Produce safety is in the national spotlight right now. Earlier this year romaine lettuce contaminated with E. coli from the Yuma, AZ growing region sickened at least 210 people in 36 states and caused 5 deaths, including two in Minnesota. The outbreak is officially over as of June 28, and now regulators will be piecing together what caused the contamination. We won’t know the source of the current outbreak for some time, but we do know that the 2006 spinach outbreak that was of a similar magnitude was traced back to irrigation water contaminated with feces from cattle or wild deer.

Fields of leafy greens
Photo credit: Annalisa Hultberg

While we don’t have control over what growers in Arizona or California do, we can control our own practices to help prevent outbreaks associated with Minnesota produce. We want to prevent any illnesses or outbreaks from Minnesota-grown produce, and to ensure our food systems to grow and thrive.

FSMA Produce Safety Rule Trainings

You may have heard of new federal food safety legislation called the Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA. FSMA is the first major overhaul to the US food system since 1938. The goal of FSMA is to shift away from responding to outbreaks toward prevention of microbial contamination. The FSMA is actually 7 rules which apply to the entire food system, including growers, processors, shippers and foreign suppliers. The Produce Safety Rule (PSR) is the rule within FSMA that applies specifically to some produce growers. To learn more about if your farm is covered by the Produce Safety Rule, see this factsheet.

University of Minnesota Extension, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Produce Safety Program and other partners have been working hard to develop a statewide program to help Minnesota farmers understand and comply with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. In the winter of 2017-18 we held 5 FSMA Produce Safety Rule trainings, and this winter we have scheduled 14 trainings around the state.

If your farm is covered by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, attending this training satisfies the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirement outlined in §112.22(c) that requires ‘At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.’  This training uses the approved curriculum developed by the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA).

However all farms, including those that are exempt and qualified exempt from the full Rule, are encouraged to attend to understand Good Agricultural Practices and the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. It is a great overview of critical topics that are becoming even more important to the fresh produce industry. If you would like to get a GAP audit at some point on your product to sell to a wholesale market, it will be very helpful to understand these concepts and how to write food safety plans. Not only will you learn about the new federal law, you will learn practical, farm-based strategies to keep your produce safe.

Your trainers are UMN Extension staff, MDA Produce Safety Program staff and trained fruit and vegetable farmers. Your trainers are very well versed in GAPs and practical, effective and useful tips for implementing food safety on your farm. We are very lucky and unique in Minnesota to have farmers co-leading each training, and it makes for a very engaging day. 

One of the most common things we hear from attendees after the FSMA Produce Safety Rule trainings is "Wow, that was actually really fun, and useful!"

Registration Information

To register: Cost: $25 (This cost is subsidized and will rise in the coming years). You only need to attend this one-day training one time, and the certificate of attendance is good for life. All courses run from 8:30 - 5:00.

Registration includes the training materials, lunch, refreshments, and a Certificate of Course Attendance issued by AFDO. Participation for the entire training is required for the certificate. Participation is limited to 40 participants on a first-come, first-served basis. No walk-ins accepted.

Questions? University of Minnesota Extension On-Farm GAPs Education Program can help you understand GAPs and FSMA, farm food safety principles and help you prepare for a GAP audit. Reach us at or visit  

FDA page on the FSMA Produce Safety Rule: click here
MDA Produce Safety Program:  click here

-Annalisa Hultberg, UMN Food Safety Extension Educator

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