Organic Food Safety Listening Session at Organic Grower Summit

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The Organic Center is partnering with Organic Grower Summit, taking place Dec 1-2, 2021, to discuss incongruities between NOP requirements buyer and third-party food safety requirements. Join us to add your voice to the dialogue!

The session, titled “Organic Food Safety Listening Session,” is scheduled for Dec 2nd at 8am, and is part of a USDA-funded project to address tensions between organic certification and food safety requirements.

Many of the ecologically-based management practices employed by organic farmers have food safety implications and may raise red flags for food safety inspectors and buyers of fruits and vegetables.

For example, habitat maintained to conserve biodiversity and integrated crop-livestock rotations may be viewed as pathogen reservoirs. Similarly, buyers and inspectors may view the use of BSAAOs as a pathogen pathway into the soil, and the prohibition against many synthetic sanitizing solutions as reducing organic operations’ capacity to combat pathogens in water or on food handling surfaces (e.g. tools and equipment).

For organic growers, these pressures run counter to organic requirements to maintain biodiversity and may interfere with organic soil fertility management. Evidence to date points to the potential for disparities between food safety requirements and NOP standards in multiple farm management areas, including: application of soil amendments of animal origin; reliance on costly chlorinated sanitizing agents for agricultural and wash water; and conservation of biodiversity in the farm environment.

Unfortunately, while these tensions are common experiences among the organic community, little information has been collected detailing the top pressure-points where research could best support organic growers.

This session will help collect information from organic growers to better understand the impacts of incongruities between organic certification and third party food safety requirements, with the long-term goal of developing research programs that reduce the burden of compliance with multiple regulations, largely by equipping organic farmers and industry stakeholders with feasible, cost-effective, and organic-compliant tools to comply with food safety best practices and requirements.