FSMA Book Reviews

Micah Hutchison, Produce Safety Technician

Green Line 



The FSMA Produce Safety Rule lists many required (musts) and suggested (should) practices for growers to follow to reduce the risk of microbial contamination to fresh, covered produce. Currently, there is no book written specifically for growers to reference FSMA best practices. There are many books on growing that contain translatable information to help growers follow best practices that align the with required and suggested practices of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. Here are a few items we gleaned from our summer reading:

Charnas, Dan. Work Clean. Rodale, 2016.

  • Keep Routines. By creating and keeping routines, tasks become habit. Start making actionable tasks like pre-harvest assessments, cleaning and sanitizing practices, and employee training part of the daily or weekly farm routine.

Coleman, Elliot. Four Season Harvest. Chelsea Green Publishing, 1992.

  • If possible, avoid using wood for storage of fresh fruits and vegetables. Store crops in plastic containers, which can be sourced second-hand. When sourcing second-hand materials, ensure they are made from food-grade plastic and have only been used to store food products. As with any harvest container, wash and sanitize before use.

Coleman, Elliot. The New Organic Grower. Chelsea Green Publishing, 1989.

  • Utilize mobile harvest tools, like carts. Wheeled carts can be of great assistance to the harvesting process while also keeping harvest bins off the ground. Placing bins on a platform to reduce soil contact during harvest activities can reduce the likelihood of introducing soilborne pathogens to fresh produce during post-harvest and storage activities.

Fortier, Jean-Martin. The Market Gardener. New Society Publishers, 2014

  • Get in the habit of a daily, pre-harvest assessment. Preharvest assessments are a great way to reduce the potential for contamination of fresh produce from animals. Taking the time to walk fields before harvesting allows growers to identify and address potential risks, like animal damage and feces, before harvest activities begin.
  • Record keeping. Create recordkeeping templates that fit the operation. Store them in a place where they are easy to use and get into the habit of using them.

Hartman, Ben. The Lean Farm. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2015.

  • Minimize movements and use diagrams to map out the flow of your farm activities. Mapping out the flow of work in post-harvest activities can reduce the possibility of introducing contamination to clean produce from dirty produce and increase efficiency.
  • Train yourself first- Employee training is key to a successful operation. Trained employees will be able to identify and assess any risks they encounter when on the job. By training yourself first on SOPs and on-farm practices, you will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your SOPs and training plans before rolling them out to your workers.

Stone, Curtis. The Urban Farmer. New Society Publishers, 2016

  • Decide in advance what order you harvest. During harvest and post-harvest activities, prioritize the harvesting, washing, and packing of covered produce separately from non-covered produce.