What qualifies as pesticide training for food safety audits?

All pesticide and fertilizer applicators for fresh produce need to have pesticide training. This applies to general use as well as restricted use pesticides. Here’s a clarification of the required training needed for applicators of general use pesticides.

From a food safety perspective, all pesticide and fertilizer applicators for fresh produce need to have some form of pesticide training, irrespective of what is being applied. If the applicator has a commercial or private Restricted Use Pesticide certification, that is sufficient from a food safety perspective. For those who apply only general use pesticides or who do not have these certifications, some training must be performed.

It is important to clarify that having trained applicators for all applications is not a state or federal law. State and federal laws only require trained applicators for restricted use pesticides. Having trained applicators for general use pesticides is only a food safety prerequisite. It is perfectly legal for an untrained individual to apply general use pesticides. A grower will not suffer any loss from this as long as the crop they are spraying is not destined for food safety certification. For growers wishing to achieve food safety certification who only apply general use pesticides, Michigan State University Extension recommends they seek out some form of training for their applicators.

A grower in this situation has a number of options. The person in need of certification can attend a pesticide safety workshop offered by any organization. The grower would need to have both proof of attendance at the workshop as well as proof of content in their food safety manual. A receipt from any fees paid or name badge from the event could serve as proof of attendance. Inclusion of an agenda serves as an ideal proof of content.

If you have specific questions about the food safety aspects of pesticide applicator training or have difficulty tailoring GAPs to your farm, contact the Agrifood Safety Work Group at gaps@msu.edu or 517-788-4292.

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