An Evaluation of an on-Farm Food Safety Program for Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Producers; a Global Blueprint for Fruit and Vegetable Producers

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An evaluation of an on-farm food safety program for Ontario greenhouse vegetable producers; a global blueprint for fruit and vegetable producers

A Thesis
Presented to
The Faculty of Graduate Studies
Of
The University of Guelph

by
Benjamin J. Chapman

In partial fulfillment of requirements
for the degree of
Master of Science
February, 2005

( Benjamin Chapman, 2005

Abstract
An evaluation of an on-farm food safety program for Ontario greenhouse vegetable producers; a global blueprint for fruit and vegetable producers

Benjamin J. Chapman
University of Guelph, 2005

Advisor:
Professor Douglas A. Powell

Fresh fruits and vegetables have been increasingly linked to cases of foodborne illness. Many produce farmers have implemented on-farm food safety strategies, employing good agricultural practices focusing on water, handling and sanitation to reduce risk. An illustrative case study to examine implementation trends was developed through the examination of current on-farm food safety issues and programs, with specific focus on the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers' (OGVG) hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP)- based initiative. In 2003, OGVG's 200 members had a combined farm-gate value of $350 million and represented 41 per cent of North American greenhouse vegetable production. Program implementation barriers identified included: perceived costs of participation, the priority of food safety management; and, management/employee relationships. Effective implementation was size-neutral and value was obtained through market access. Produce industry stakeholders can apply the results of this research and create a template to be used in similar extension activities. Acknowledgements

For the past four years of my life, food safety conversations followed me wherever I go. I've discussed it at the dinner table with family at Thanksgiving; on a road trip to Atlantic City with friends; at a bar following a pick-up hockey game; and even on the golf course. Produce-related outbreaks; BSE; how to cook a turkey; GE food production policy; and how often Emeril washes his hands have all come up. This is something I think I have a true (and sometimes unhealthy and annoying) passion for.

Food safety research is not something I had set out to do when entering my undergraduate years at the University of Guelph. I wasn't all that sure what I was destined for, but I stumbled upon a research group lead by a long-haired goalie, straight out of a Coen brothers movie, who called me 'dude' from the first day I met him: Dr. Doug Powell. He gave me job that I was destined for: surfing the Internet all day, for a whole summer. He called this "pulling news"; collecting much of the raw data that would eventually form a portion of this thesis. This employment also provided me with a unique opportunity to read and digest all the food safety dialogue that was in the public realm, and begin to form some opinions about on-farm food safety policy and implementation.

During that summer and into the fall I was fortunate enough to be introduced to four individuals who have all acted as mentors to me (whether they know it or not). This thesis would not have been possible if it wasn't for the support and friendship of Shane Morris, Amber Bailey, Katija Blaine and Justin Kastner. On numerous occasions each of them have challenged me to become a better graduate student, learn as much as I could about my research and produce something that the group would be proud of. As clichéd as it may sound, my experiences exploring food safety questions while working at the Food Safety Network under the direction of Doug Powell have been invaluable.

My mom and dad have always encouraged me to find something I liked, and stick with it to the end. Thanks to their guidance, they are indirectly responsible for much of what is in this document.

You could say that my soul mate, Dani, and I are getting pretty serious at...
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