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February 6, 2023

Western Growers and CA LGMA Co-host Pre-harvest Product Testing Workshop in Yuma

The Pre-harvest Product Testing Workshop in Yuma on Jan. 31, 2023 brought industry experts together to share their guidance and expertise on pre-harvest product sampling and testing programs.

The objectives of the Western Growers and CA LGMA event included providing information to help attendees understand ways to develop and implement a pre-harvest testing program and its parameters, learn how and where to collect a sample aseptically and accurately, understand different lab analytical methods, understand the meaning of analytical results, and know what to do if you get a positive pathogen test.

Presenters provided participants with a comprehensive overview of what to consider when designing your own program and selecting a third-party laboratory.

Western Growers’ Science Programs Director Afreen Malik and LGMA’s Technical Director Greg Komar presented a Pre-harvest Sampling and Testing guidance document called Appendix C. This guidance document, rooted in sound science and focused on practical application, provides a foundational bases on which operations may design their own, company-specific program.

Food Safety Net Services’ Principal Scientist Manoj K. Shah, PhD. provided information about laboratory sample processing, explaining how samples are accessioned upon arrival at the laboratory, how samples are set for testing, what detection methods are used, the process for reporting results and the principles for evaluating and choosing a laboratory partner.

Hygiena’s Global Produce Manager April Englishbey, PhD. presented Microbiology Testing Methods, describing the processes through which bacteria can exchange genetic materials and mutate rapidly, the difference between molecular and cultural methods, and why we need to use all the diagnostic tools available to get the full picture of microbial risk and manage it effectively.

Zach Tucker of Priority Sampling demonstrated how he collects produce samples in the field aseptically and ensures that samples are protected against cross-contamination during handling and transport.

Dole Fresh Vegetables’ Daniela Garcia offered an industry perspective on pre-harvest product sampling and testing. Daniela shared that a robust product testing program requires thoughtful deliberation and collaboration within your operations.  What to test for and why, when and where to collect samples, which lab to partner with, how to collect and analyze data, and how to react to test results are all important questions that one must answer before implementing a testing program. There is assistance available to help you work through these questions, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

For more information on these presentations, follow the links below for the event resources.

Western Growers Science Pre-Harvest Testing Requirements Overview.

Hygiena Microbiology Testing Methods.

Dole Guidance on Pre-Harvest Testing.

Certified Group Laboratory Sample Processing.

WGA cares about food safety in our industry and food safety at home. If you have any concerns about food safety compliance or your organization’s food safety plan, please contact Sonia Salas at [email protected].