AMES, Iowa - The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and GROWN Locally have developed a “Grower’s Manual” to help local food cooperatives improve their handling practices and meet food safety standards. The 24-page manual can be downloaded from www.leopold.iastate.edu/pubs-and-papers/2011-10-growers-manual.
GROWN Locally, a producer cooperative in northeast Iowa, originally developed the manual to establish standards for pre- and post-harvest handling and meet the specifications of local foodservice establishments. The Leopold Center revised and expanded the manual for other cooperatives to use as a model.
“We have already had some inquiries from producer groups regarding this manual,” said Craig Chase, Leopold Center Marketing and Food Systems Initiative leader. “It will allow new groups to adapt this resource to their particular needs rather than create one from scratch.”
Cooperatives might adopt the manual’s recommendations to help them meet voluntary standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Handling Practices (GHPs). Farms and facilities that pass a GAP or GHP audit and become certified are recognized for food safety practices that minimize risk.
The Grower’s Manual describes requirements for personnel procedures, general handling, cleaning, sanitizing, packaging, labeling and transporting, and offers information for planning a mock recall. It also includes detailed tables that describe how to prepare and package a variety of crops.
Joanna Hamilton, a master’s degree candidate at Tufts University and summer intern at the Leopold Center, prepared the manual with assistance from the Leopold Center’s Marketing and Food Systems Initiative, GROWN Locally and Iowa State University Extension.