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12 food safety steps to minimize microbial contamination

Learn 12 steps to help your farm reduce or eliminate pathogens.

“The good news about food safety is that it’s pretty easy, because it does all come down to food,” stated Chris Blanchard, owner and operator of Rock Spring Farm. The best method to reduce or eliminate pathogens in food production, says Blanchard, is to prevent them.

“The principles of microbiological food safety come down to three critical factors: keeping poop off food, keeping any poop that gets on food from spreading and keeping anything in the poop from growing,” Blanchard straightforwardly explained. According to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services data, each year, approximately one in six people in the United States gets sick from eating contaminated food.

"Food safety is not just a legal responsibility; it is an ethical obligation to your customers."

Blanchard, who also works with the University of Wisconsin-Extension on commonsense food safety, presented the following 12 simple steps that you can take to put your farm on the path to safe food production, regardless of the scale of your operation.

  1. Wash your hands with good technique
  2. Sick people stay home from work
  3. Shut out the animals, both wild and domestic
  4. Manage your water, as it’s a source of contamination and potential spread
  5. Clean and sanitize all surfaces and equipment with the correct products
  6. Manage your manure
  7. Wear the right clothes
  8. Use the right tools and equipment
  9. Secure your supplies: clean and store all tools and equipment properly
  10. Keep everything off the floor: assume the floor is always contaminated
  11. Keep functions separate: keep your “getting it clean” operations separate from your “keeping it clean” operations
  12. Wash your hands again
“Wash your hands again. I can’t say it enough … it’s that important. Train your people how to wash their hands,” emphasized Blanchard. “Food safety is not just a legal responsibility; it is an ethical obligation to your customers.”

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