Get to Know Your Produce Safety Technicians
, Upper Peninsula Produce Safety Technician
All produce growers face a common set of hurdles when it comes to getting a product to market: protect the produce from contamination, ensure cleanliness, and keep consumers safe from foodborne pathogens. Michigan farmers face these challenges, too, but with one major advantage. Enter: the Michigan On-farm Produce Safety team, a collaborative program among the State of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Michigan Conservation Districts. The Michigan On-Farm Produce Safety (MIOFPS) program has many options for receiving educational or technical assistance to meet food safety standards on-farm, including the free and confidential on-farm technical assistance provided by Produce Safety Technicians.
Produce Safety Technicians work out of Michigan Conservation Districts to serve produce growers in the most heavily agricultural regions of the state. In total, there are six Produce Safety Technicians, with five positioned in the Lower Peninsula and one in the Upper Peninsula. These technicians serve as the on-farm resource in the MIOFPS team, happy to meet a farm exactly where they are at and ready to provide farm-specific advice for making food safety progress. Working with a Produce Safety Technician is an opportunity for a farmer to learn how all the major food safety areas of concern - worker training, worker health and hygiene, soil amendments, wildlife exclusion, water quality, and post-harvest handling - affect the food safety of their particular farm. The main way Produce Safety Technicians do this is through a Produce Safety Risk Assessment, which is used like a checklist to take stock of a farm’s current food safety status and highlight any potential room for improvement in the farm’s practices. Working with a technician, making food safety progress, and completing a written farm produce safety plan can even earn a farmer a Michigan Produce Safety Certificate.
Completing Produce Safety Risk Assessment is not a requirement for working with a Produce Safety Technician. Farms can make use of technician’s services as much as they like, with no obligations. Taking advantage of a technician can provide a farmer with assistance in writing a farm food safety plan, developing an action plan, training and record keeping requirements, water testing, designing a wash/pack facility, and more. Produce Safety Technicians also work with the rest of the MIOFPS team to deliver On-Farm Readiness Reviews, which are designed to help ready a farm for a Produce Safety Inspection, and Produce Safety Grower Trainings, which satisfy the Produce Safety Rule training requirement for covered farms.
A map of Produce Safety Technician locations and service areas may be found on the MI On-Farm Produce Safety website. To find the technician nearest you, visit .