Bobbi Stevenson-McDermott Sept. 18, 2016 publication
Isn’t it wonderful having night temperatures in the 70’s and day less than 100 degrees! We have been waiting for this weather since June and the ‘fall’ weather has everyone energized to do outside activities. It is never too early, however to start talking about food safety.
The University of Arizona in conjunction with the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association, Arizona Leafy Greens and the Arizona Department of Agriculture have been providing training and refresher courses on food safety all summer. In August, a Food Safety Workshop for Third Parties Working in or Near Fresh Produce Fields was offered. Who are the ‘third parties’ working in or near farm fields? Those groups touched on were pest control advisers; fertilizer delivery and spreaders; irrigation district personnel; portable toilet services and maintenance; county workers doing road maintenance; residents out jogging or walking, with or without dogs; 4-H and FFA students exercising their animals and the general public.
This is in addition to all of the workers and equipment who are supposed to be in the fields. It is difficult to think of another industry that has so many challenges in providing their products to the public.
With all of these third parties, the areas of concern in produce production are: personal hygiene; proper clothing and protective garments; hairnets and beard nets; eating drinking, spitting and smoking; personal items; jewelry; personal health; wounds and blood; hand washing; cleaning and sanitizing; animal contamination; foreign objects and litter. In addition, most agricultural companies have a mandatory visitor sign-in that they must maintain.
A recent publication by the University of Arizona through the college of Agriculture and Life Sciences is the Southwest Arizona Track and Scat Glove box Guide to identify signs of wild and domestic animal intrusion. This compact and thorough guide covers more than 30 animals commonly found in Southwest Arizona. Risk ranking for each featured animal, comprehensive track and scat identification techniques, a ruler to measure tracks or scat found in the field are also included. The publication has waterproof pages and is ideal for use in all types of weather.
The ‘third parties’ can be of great help to the growers they are working with by reporting problems they see during their daily work. It is impossible to cover every acre checking for food safety concerns so noting possible trespassers or problems enhances food safety for everyone.
With everything that the Yuma County Agricultural Industry to keep the products grown the freshest and safest in the country, it is important for residents help in the efforts by not littering, not throwing materials into the irrigation canals, picking up your pets droppings, staying out of agricultural fields and being responsible in your outdoor activities. Since this is dove and quail season, shooting over vegetable crops forbidden. There are many areas where hunting is welcomed, local AZ Game & Fish personnel and sports shops will be happy to point you in the right direction.
We, as ‘third parties’ need to be aware of the results of our activities and support the Lettuce Capital of the World!