“I’ve been to a lot of food safety workshops but this was by far the best workshop I’ve ever attended,” said Tony Jones, food safety director for Mercier Orchards, Blue Ridge, Ga. "The focused discussion with the teachers and the other food safety folks was great. I was excited to get back to the packing facility to share the takeaways we will implement with our food safety team.”
This was the consensus from packing shed owners, food safety directors and staff, and state regulators at the Packing Shed Sanitation Workshop. This was the second time GFVGA has hosted the workshop with Mérieux NutriScience. The workshop was held at the USDA Fruit and Tree Nut Research Station in Byron, Georgia with daily hands-on activities at Lane Southern Orchards packing shed in Fort Valley, Georgia.
“It was our hope to create a time and place for food safety professionals to learn, discuss, then apply cleaning and sanitation principles and practices at their sheds,” said Beth Oleson, director of education and food safety for GFVGA. “While food safety is integrated into every aspect of an operation, so much hinges on the cleaning and sanitation program that is often an afterthought. I was ecstatic to see so many attendees leave with long lists of practices to review or implement at their packing sheds.”
All workshop sponsors, who were there by invitation only, were asked to be active participants in the workshop. They all shared how much they learned about the needs for produce safety and how much better they will be able to help meet the needs of fruit and vegetable growers.
Presenters Jeff Lucas, Technical Director with Mérieux NutriSciences, Dr. Laurel Dunn, State Food Science Extension Specialist with Univ of Georgia, and Beth Oleson, Director of Food Safety and Education for GFVGA worked hard to create an intimate learning environment for attendees to discuss packing shed food safety issues. This included workshop sponsors who were invited to enhance discussions and education through their various products and services. Attendees also enjoyed seeing and hearing about the organization and scope of packing sheds at Lane Southern Orchards.