Pest Management in Compliance with Food Safety
By: Ernie Lugo, ESD
In 2018 and 2019. Arizona was in the Ag spotlight because of food safety issues with contaminated Romaine lettuce.
As we reflect on what our industry has been through with this situation, those who apply crop protection products on leafy greens and other edible crops must keep in mind the possibility that careless or improper actions during an application could create a similar situation involving pesticides, and of course those who apply them.
To help prevent this, both in-house applicators and custom applicators should take the necessary precautions to insure that applications are done in a manner that does not compromise the product.
From our mere presence on production or harvest sites to the actual application, there are many things that can go wrong if we are not careful or simply because because we do not know about food safety rules. But what can we do to make sure we are in compliance with food safety rules? We recommend you consult the growers’ food safety professionals to seek guidance. In many cases these food safety professionals require that application operation managers review and sign Good Agriculture Practices or GAPs as they are commonly known. But is that information reaching applicators and handlers in the field? Unfortunately that is not always the case.
From personal hygiene to introducing and leaving behind foreign objects inside fields, to over spraying, there are many bad situations we can create if we are not cautious. Developing and implementing food safety protocols and a training program related to what we do is an inexpensive and easy way to protect your operation from begin in the spotlight because of product contamination.
Food Safety is everyone’s responsibility and we should all do our part to help growers deliver a safe product. By doing the right thing, we will also be protecting our branch of the industry.