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Preparing your packingshed for food safety this season - spray tables and packshed design resources

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety

As you plan for your season and begin to set up your packshed and washing area this spring, think through food safety considerations. You may be purchasing equipment from another farm of from an auction, or might be retrofitting equipment to serve other purposes. Here are some key things to consider regarding food safety in your pack and wash area this season.

Hygienic design is a set of principles that apply to processing, packing and washing areas to ensure that they are cleanable, washable and sanitizable. Some very helpful new resources from the University of Vermont are available to help you plan and design your packing area with food safety in mind. For example, your equipment should be easily accessed for cleaning, with smooth and cleanable surfaces. You can learn more about ideal finishes for food contact surfaces here. Wood, pitted or bumpy surfaces are not easily cleaned, and can harbor microscopic bacteria, so should be avoided in the packing area when possible. 

The key elements of hygienic design include: 

  • Visible and Reachable Surfaces
  • Smooth and Cleanable Surfaces
  • No Collection Points
  • Compatible Materials
  • Preventing Contamination

This short case study of Small Axe Farm in Vermont provides packing area guidelines and best practices, including many photos and a schematic for sample packshed flow and design. A video case study of the farm is available here. 

Spray tables design and options - spray tables are an excellent way to spray down roots and other study vegetables this summer. If you are looking for design ideas and inspiration, this blog post has a number of excellent ideas. 

If you have some time and would like to watch a short webinar all about hygienic design to help you make decisions about packsheds this season, watch this webinar series "Project Planning for Postharvest Efficiency, Profitability & Food Safety"

The topics in the webinars are: 

  • Session 1: Introduction (8:19)
  • Session 2: Postharvest & Produce Safety (11:03)
  • Session 3: Flow and Lean Principles (31:35)
  • Session 4: Virtual Tour of Farms (21:23)
  • Session 5: Buildings & Infrastructure (28:18)
  • Session 6: Equipment (26:08)
  • Session 7: Tools (39:24)
  • Session 8: Executing Your Plan (27:48)

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