Building a Culture of Food Safety

Food safety is becoming a priority for consumers. From farmers’ markets to grocery stores, consumers are looking for documented assurance that the food they’re eating is produced safely. To remain competitive, farm direct producers and small scale processors must adapt to this changing environment. Explore Local can help.

“In partnership with Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association and our Safe Food Branch, Explore Local is bringing the Building a Culture of Food Safety workshop to two locations this fall,” says Karen Goad, farm direct marketing specialist with the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Explore Local initiative. The workshops will go November 6 in Leduc and November 13 in Airdrie.

It’s easy and inexpensive to start incorporating a safe food philosophy in your farm direct business,” says Monika Frank–Ruediger, safe food systems specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “It starts with the right mind set and a good dose of common sense.”

“The first step can be as simple as establishing proper hand washing practices or regularly recording the temperature of your refrigeration equipment and then building to a solid foundation of prerequisite programs,” continues Frank-Ruediger. “It’s important to start small and incorporate first those steps that make the most sense for your business.”

Prerequisite programs provide the basic environment and operating conditions that are necessary for the production of safe food. They include protocols for premises, storage and transportation, equipment, sanitation, food handling, personnel, product recall and traceability. Farm direct producers should develop and follow written procedures for each protocol and record each step in the process. Your records provide an indication of whether the measures are implemented effectively.

As your business grows, you may choose to invest the time and money to implement one of the established food safety systems such as On Farm Food Safety (OFFS) or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP).

Attend one of the Building a Food Safety Culture events to discover the benefits that sound food safety practices can bring to your business. By attending the session, producers and processors will:

  • Learn about the regulations that impact the production, processing and marketing of food;
  • Meet the people who can help you understand how they affect your operation;
  • Explore how the top 10 food safety practices apply to your farm;
  • Engage with peers on the industry panel who are further down the food safety path; and
  • Hear how Doef Greenhouses, Chinook Honey and Spragg’s Meat Shop or Irvings Farm Fresh have brought diverse food safety cultures to their businesses.

One workshop, two locations: November 6 at the Agri-Food Business Centre in Leduc or November 13 at the Airdrie Agricultural Centre. Register now as space is limited. To register for either workshop, phone Krista toll free at 800.661.2642, email or visit the Events tab on

For more information, contact Karen Goad at 780.539.5629 (dial 310-0000 first for toll-free access) or email

Funding for this project is provided by Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative.

Link photo courtesy of Frans Persoon