All objects that come into contact with produce during harvest, storage and transportation are clean, in good working condition, and maintained on a scheduled basis. This includes, but is not limited to handheld harvesting equipment (knives, pruners, etc.), mechanical harvesting equipment, containers and vehicles, washing equipment, the Wash House itself and storage areas (including the cooler and CoolBot).

The Wash House, storage areas and equipment are cleaned according to the procedures for Pre-Harvest Risk Management, Wash House Cleaning, Food Contact Surfaces and Wash Water Treatment, Shared Equipment and Cleaning Mechanical Harvesters. If equipment is being transported between farm sites, it is inspected, cleaned and sanitized again after being unloaded and before use. The equipment is cleaned and sanitized as needed during use, as well as between crops and/or plots if multiple products are being harvested.

Harvest & Produce Washing

All employees and visitors involved in harvest are trained in assessing contamination risks and corrective actions before harvest of produce according to the procedures for Pre-Harvest Risk Management.

Harvest containers are kept in good repair. Any container not in use is stored in a clean and secure location in the Wash House. Harvest containers are not used for carrying anything but produce. If something other than produce is inadvertently placed in a harvest container, it is cleaned with soap and water and sanitized.

Produce is harvested according to direction and training from farm management. Leafy greens are generally harvested with harvest knives into containers or bunched with twist ties. Root, rhizome crops and cucurbits are hand-harvested and either collected loosely or bunched with twist ties into containers. Small fruit crops (strawberries, raspberries) are hand-harvested into flats or pints. All harvests are recorded in the Harvest Log.

For use in harvest transportation, the back bay of the pickup and Suburban are first inspected, swept/vacuumed if necessary and lined with a clean tarp. Harvest crates are enclosed (such as in the back bay of the Suburban) or covered with lids or a clean tarp when transported from the Fields 2 and 3 to the Wash House. Produce from the hoop houses and neighboring plots are harvested into crates and taken directly to be washed at the wash station, or harvested directly into delivery packaging and stored inside immediately. Because the distance from harvest areas to the Wash House is short, the crops are not stored in the field for any length of time, and the crops are under observation at all times, there is very little risk of contamination during this stage of transport.

All crops are washed and stored according to the weekly harvest plan or farm management directions. If washed, the procedures for Washing Produce are followed, as applicable.

Storage

Produce is delivered for wholesale, to restaurants/institutions or directly to consumers via the farmers market, or it is stored onsite in cool storage (cooler or CoolBot). Storage temperatures are maintained at 38°F in the cooler (year-round) and 40 to 55°F in the Coolbot (used during summer/fall seasons), and are monitored on approximately a weekly basis when in use for produce storage. Temperatures are recorded in the Wash House Cleaning weekly log.

Transportation

Vehicles in Production Areas

Employee and visitor vehicles are allowed on the roadways and designated areas outside of crop production areas only. All farm vehicles will be inspected for the following prior to entering the fields:

  • Interior and exterior cleanliness
  • No broken or cracked plastic or glass windows, fixtures, covers, or other parts
  • No dripping oil, anti-freeze, petroleum, or lubricant.
  • Contamination hazards such as food, animal feces/fur/feathers, excessive dirt or debris or other items that could compromise the produce.

Vehicles for Produce Transportation

All vehicles used to transport produce are inspected for cleanliness, odors, contamination hazards (pesticide residue, animal contamination, etc.) and any other signs of unsanitary conditions before loading. If necessary, the vehicle is cleaned and before produce is loaded; a clean liner is always used in delivery vehicles. Vehicles are pre-cooled with air conditioning before loading in the summer. If a commercial truck is contracted for deliveries, farm management will verify that the interior temperature is suitable for the product being transported.

Produce will be loaded carefully so that risk of damage and contamination will be minimized. Only employees who are trained in loading produce out of the storage cooler and onto trucks will be allowed to do so.

All deliveries are recorded in the Transport and Traceability Log.

Moe, J. 2021, DFI Food Safety Plan - Part 3: Harvest, Storage, and Transportation, Desert Farming Initiative, University of Nevada, Reno

Learn more about the author(s)

 

Also of Interest:

 
Detecting Multiwall Carbon Nanotube Uptake and Translocation in Lettuce to Enhance Food Safety Assessment.
Reclaiming Water for Urban Foodsheds integrates basic scientific research with extension outreach to examine the feasibility of using reclaimed water resources for irrigated agriculture in urban environments.
Yang, Y., Das, K., Barrios-Masias., F., and Singletary, L. 2018, Extension I University of Nevada, Reno, FS-18-03.
Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Handling Practices (GHPs): A Framework for Minimizing On-Farm Food Safety Hazards
Approximately 48 million people in the United States get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year (CDC, 2011). Produce has continued to be implicated in major foodborne illness outbreaks in recent years.
Urbanowitz, S. 2013, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
Food Safety Tips for Nevada Child Caregivers
This publication will help you to learn more about what caregivers should look for during the preparation of food to prevent foodborne illness.
Omaye, S. and Wilson, M. 2007, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-07-28
Harvesting lettuce
Team YHEP Presents: Hydroponics Harvest and Donations
Team YHEP shows you how we harvest and package our hydroponic produce for donation to our food pantry partners throughout Las Vegas!
O'Callaghan, A., Braxton-Perry, T., Hansen, N., and Ford-Terry, I., 2020, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, YouTube Channel
 

Associated Programs

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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.