Microgreens are a popular and versatile crop, including a wide variety of plants (from mustard to radish) that are cut for sale when they have just developed their first true leaves. These are not to be confused with sprouts, which are harvested with the seed attached and without any leaves. Microgreen production is an expanding sector in Nevada’s agricultural economy – more than 50 of the State’s 400 produce farms grow microgreens (NDA, 2020).
From 1998 to 2017, there were no known food borne illness outbreaks associated with microgreens in the US, as opposed to over 50 related to sprouts and baby greens and more than 350 related to mature leafy greens during that time frame (CSU Food Science and Nutrition, 2019). However, current research shows a similar background level of bacteria between sprouts and microgreens (Riggio et al, 2019). And as with all produce that is consumed raw, there are simple measures that farms can put in place to minimize health risks. This fact sheet highlights key guidance, practices and resources for microgreens growers. Please note that all underlined text indicates a link to further online resources.
The Produce Safety Rule offers comprehensive guidance and requirements, considering the evolving science on effective practices as we learn more from outbreaks. The Rule includes specific requirements for sprouts growers; these are not required for microgreens growers but are important to understand. Below is a compilation of key practices for safe microgreens production considering those policies and current research. Key practices safe microgreen production: Food safety challenges associated with microgreens production primarily have to do with seed handling, the temperature and humidity of the growing environment, harvest practices and the basic fact that this product is usually consumed raw. Key practices to manage these challenges include the following.
Resources and References:
Food Safety Program
The Initiative's Food Safety Program provides services and resources for growers throughout the state of Nevada. The Initiative partners with the Nevada Department of Agriculture to demonstrate produce safety practices, share guidance and provide training.
Moe, J., 2020, Microgreens and Produce Safety, Desert Farming Initiative, University of Nevada, Reno
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