Tailgate Trainings Happening on United Fresh Convention Floor
Retail and food service customers – and now government regulators – are looking for assurances that workers throughout the produce industry have been trained and are following proper food safety practices. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of a food safety program – especially when considering the vast numbers of people who work with and handle produce on farms and during harvest and packing operations. To have a successful food safety program that protects public health, there needs to be constant training for these workers, in both English and Spanish, so they know what they’re supposed to do and why it’s so important. Training should also be conducted regularly, and safe practices reinforced continuously, to account for employee turnover.
Fortunately attendees of the upcoming United Fresh Produce Association convention in Chicago June 8 through 10 can see one of the produce industry’s most comprehensive and successful worker training programs in action. All you have to do is stop by the joint booth (#2546 and #2547) of the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements during show hours. Throughout the exposition, these two LGMA programs will conduct live trainings just like they do for leafy greens workers, harvest supervisors and food safety personnel in the workplace, and in the field.
The Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Training Program, launched in 2010, incorporates the insights of those intimately involved in the industry along with the expertise of Dr. Sergio Nieto Montenegro, of Food Safety Consulting & Training Solutions, LLC. The industry-lauded Food Safety Training Kit for leafy greens workers can be used in a classroom session or brought out to the field for “tailgate” trainings, and its practices can be applied to many other commodities. The program was named a finalist for “Best New Food Safety Solution” at United Fresh 2012 and 2014.
In 2014, The California LGMA launched a complementary training program called LGMA Tech, which was created under the direction of CA LGMA Technical Director Mike Villaneva. Recently, the program was awarded a California Specialty Crop Block Grant which has provided funds to create a standardized training program that brings the two states together under one comprehensive program.
California’s revised program includes six course including: Cleaning and Sanitizing Harvest Equipment; Employee Hygiene and Hand-Washing; Conducting Environmental Assessments; Managing Personnel and Harvesting Operations; Sampling and Testing Procedures; and Train-the-Trainer. All are offered in both English Spanish and include training materials.
During the United show, the two LGMA programs will conduct various courses in their booth for anyone interested in participating, listening-in or learning.
Everyone is welcome, but we’re especially encouraging retail and foodservice operators to stop by to see first-hand just how thorough these courses are. This way, buyers can understand what it means when a leafy greens supplier tells you they have been through the LGMA training program.
The LGMA programs are also closely coordinating to ensure the program complies with new training requirements that are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. For more information, please visit LGMA Tech on the California LGMA website or visit the Arizona LGMA website’s Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Training Program. And, we’ll see you in Chicago.