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Agriculture follows safety guidelines
Dr. Victor Martin

The Drought Monitor shows that, except for a small portion of northwest Kansas, the state is out of dry conditions. The six to ten day outlook (April 14 to 18) has normal to above normal precipitation and normal to below normal temperatures for the state. Not what corn producers wanted. And there a chance for a freeze on jointed wheat. Looking out eight to 14 days (April 16 to 22) indicates normal precipitation and below normal temperatures. The 30 day outlook (April)  is for of normal to above normal temperatures as you move to Southeast Kansas and equal chances of normal to above normal precipitation with the 90 day outlook predicting above normal temperatures and normal precipitation.  

Likely many of you hadn’t heard the term PPE before the Covid-19 pandemic. Terms like PPE, social distancing, and safety protocols were not at the forefront of many people’s minds. As organizations, companies, and governmental agencies look for PPE, you may have learned how many different types of work and industry use PPE and observe health and safety protocols. Today, for something different let’s examine some of this is agriculture and food production.  

We are being asked to observe protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep ourselves safe. Have you ever wondered about the protocols used to maintain a safe food supply? The agricultural industry follows what are termed HAACP protocols. HAACP, Hazard Analysis And Critical Control Points, is a protocol or plan followed to insure foods are safe from physical, chemical, and biological hazards. These plans are necessary not just at a processing plant but at various points in the food production and processing chains. When you see someone behind the deli counter wearing a hairnet and gloves or people working in meat processing plant wearing their PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to protect them and the product – it’s the result of a HAACP plan. So what does a HAACP plan entail?  

This is a systematic approach to food safety, required by Federal Law under the auspices of the FDA and USDA. Briefly it involves seven principles:

1. Conduct an analysis of possible physical, chemical, and biological hazards in the operation.

2. Identify Critical Control Points. A critical control point (CCP) is a point, step, or procedure in a food process at which control can be applied and, as a result, a food safety hazard can be prevented, eliminated, or reduced to an acceptable level.

3. Establish critical limits for each critical control point. A critical limit is the maximum or minimum value to which a physical, biological, or chemical hazard must be controlled at a critical control point to prevent, eliminate, or reduce to an acceptable level.

4. Establish critical control point monitoring requirements.  Monitoring activities are necessary to ensure that the process is under control at each critical control point.

5. Establish corrective actions. These are actions to be taken when monitoring indicates a deviation from an established critical limit.

6. Establish and maintain record keeping procedures. 

7. Establish procedures for verifying the HACCP system is working as intended. 

There isn’t space for more here but you get the idea and hopefully it will help you understand why governmental officials and agencies are doing what they are doing during the pandemic.

Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.