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Exploring food safety in Alberta


October 25, 2013
By Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

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October 25, 2013, Edmonton, Alta – Producing a safe food product is the number one priority of any food producer.

The 2012 Alternative Agricultural Markets in Alberta study indicated that consumers rate food safety as one of their top five reasons for purchasing food grown or made in Alberta.

“Producers selling directly to consumers at farmers’ markets, u-picks, on-farm or through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, can take advantage of the opportunity these markets present and talk to their customers about the safe food practices they use,” says Karen Goad, farm direct marketing specialist with Explore Local, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

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An Alberta Agriculture initiative, Explore Local can help new producers, those venturing into direct marketing and other producers who may be wondering where to start when it comes to making sure their food products are safe.

“In partnership with Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association and Alberta Agriculture’s Safe Food Systems Branch, Explore Local is hosting the Building a Food Safety Culture workshop in two locations this fall,” says Goad. “The workshops will be held in Leduc on November 6 and in Airdrie on November 13, 2013.”

These introductory workshops will help producers set the stage in their own operation for implementing a food safety culture. The workshops will be an opportunity to hear and connect with speakers who are knowledgeable and passionate about food safety and ensuring the production of safe food products.

Darlene Dittrich with the Safe Food Systems Branch of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development will share what it means to have a food safety culture in your organization and how to get started. Participants will receive tools and resources that can be used to help develop a food safety plan for their operation.

The event is also an opportunity to meet representatives from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Alberta Health Services. Representatives from both will be at the workshops and will be discussing the legislation that influences the production, processing and marketing of food and how legislation and regulations impact farm direct marketing operations.

With more than 20 years of experience helping producers implement food safety programs in their operations, Betty Vladicka of Golden Sage Consulting will convey the top 10 food safety practices that can easily and inexpensively be applied to a farm direct operation.

These one-day workshops also provide a chance to engage with peers who have implemented food safety programs in their operations. Discover how and why Doef’s Greenhouses, Chinook Honey, Spragg’s Meat Shop or Irvings Farm Fresh brought diverse food safety cultures to their businesses, how it impacted their competitive advantage and, ultimately, their bottom lines.

To register for either workshop, phone Krista toll free at 1-800-661-2642, email Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association or visit the events tab on the Explore Local website. Space is limited, so early registration is recommended.