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Bridging The Gap: Effective Risk Mitigation Through Adoption of Agricultural Water Treatment Systems

Critzer, F. J.
University of Tennessee
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Our goal is to equip growers with the knowledge to successfully implement water treatment systems on their farms. Fruit and vegetable growers are continually evaluating new practices to mitigate food safety risks in their operations. The finalization of the Produce Safety rule has set in motion many activities to help growers become compliant with this regulation. Our team has long-standing relationships with the produce growing community in our roles as extension specialists. We have received numerous questions and have had many discussions with growers who currently use surface water for irrigation or application of foliar sprays (e.g. herbicides and pesticides). They understand that surface water can become contaminated with foodborne pathogens and do not want to rely upon monitoring via water testing or die-off rates to assure the safety of the produce they are growing. While there are in-line water treatments (chlorine, peroxyacetic acid, UV-light) to inactivate pathogens, there isn't a curriculum to educate growers about each technology; determine what would work best in their operation; validate effectiveness; and conduct ongoing verification activities (e.g. record-keeping). This project seeks to:Develop stakeholder-driven curriculum to educate growers of all sizes and background about agricultural water treatment systems;Share the curriculum with growers and train-the-trainers; and lastlyEvaluate the short-term and medium-term outcomes through knowledge gained and adoption of this technology.This curriculum would help growers of all sizes make educated decisions on how to mitigate risk for their farms within the context of the Produce Safety regulation.Additionally, we will coordinate hostinga Project Directors meeting for Pilot, Community Outreach and Multi-state projects in year one with the Southern Center.
Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
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Bacterial Pathogens
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication