New Michigan’s Safe Food Risk Assessment for small west Michigan farms

The Michigan’s Safe Food Risk Assessment, developed by Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan State University, will be available to assist small producers to understand and document on-farm food safety practices.

A recent initiative of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to meet its priorities for a safe, secure and wholesome food supply, promote Michigan agricultural products and preserve farmland resulted in a joint project with Michigan State University to develop Michigan’s Safe Food Risk Assessment. The voluntary and confidential assessment process targets small producers or markets that do not require the Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification. During 2011, Michigan’s Safe Food Risk Assessment was pilot tested with 12 growers in preparation for broader implementation.

At the 2011 Great Lakes Expo, Allen Krizek, Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development, cautioned against growers considering the risk assessment if your market requires GAP certification. “If you need GAP, go directly to it. Make sure that your process meets the buyer’s needs.”

Technicians in six west Michigan conservation districts are prepared to provide second party reviews. The utilization of practices such as worker hand washing, manure handling, water testing and pesticide application records are reviewed during the assessment. One of the requirements is the completion a food safety plan. If 80% of the practices have been completed and documented, a certificate of completion may be issued. Berrien, Grand Traverse, Mason-Lake, Oceana, Ottawa and Van Buren Soil Conservation Districts are cooperating in this program during 2012.

Technicians will also work with producers to develop an action plan toward the certificate of completion.

Krizek advises west Michigan farmers who may be interested in Michigan’s Safe Food Risk Assessment to develop a food safety plan using or templates available at Michigan State University Extension’s Agrifood Safety Workgroup.

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