Safe food production classes - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Safe food production classes headed to Greenbrier and Randolph Counties

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The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) will offer Good Handling Practices/Good Agricultural Practices (GHP/GAP) classes next week to help West Virginia food producers protect consumers from food-borne illnesses.

The first class will be held at Camp Pioneer in Beverly on Wednesday. The second class will be Thursday at the WVU Building on the State Fair of West Virginia fairgrounds in Fairlea. Classes will be taught by food safety expert Dr. Robert Williams of Virginia Tech. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. each day, and classes will run from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Cost for the course is $25 to cover textbooks.

The class prepares producers for the GHP/GAP audit program. While neither the classes, nor the audits, are required by the state, some wholesalers and institutions require suppliers to have GHP/GAP certification.

Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick says the program also gives participants an advantage over producers that don't have GHP/GAP certification.

"We can grow West Virginia's economy by increasing the amount of local food produced and consumed in the state," said Commissioner Helmick. "However, we must be able to demonstrate that our local foods are of the highest quality. Consumers will be reassured when they buy from producers who are knowledgeable about food safety practices, and who have gone through an independent audit process."

The classes are sponsored by the WVDA, the WVU Extension Service and the West Virginia Value Chain Cluster. They are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant program.

For more information, contact Melissa Beller at 304-558-2210 or mbeller@wvda.us.

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