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According to the United States Department of Agriculture 2012 Census of Agriculture, sales from greenhouse-grown food crops equaled around $800 million in the U.S. Crops grown included tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, and berries, with hydroponic production operations making up about 64% of the total production (cwt) (USDA Census of Agriculture, 2012). Demand for greenhouse-grown produce continues to increase, providing growers with unique opportunities to tap into this expanding market. Although greenhouse systems provide a more protected environment than field-grown systems, it is important to understand the unique food safety risks and possible sources of contamination when growing produce in these systems. Identifying food safety hazards are necessary to implementing practices that reduce the risk of contamination during the pre-plant, production, harvest, and post-harvest handling stages. Use the checklist below to guide you in asking important questions targeting possible risks at each of the greenhouse system stages.
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
July 10, 2017