Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many maple producers were forced to cancel open house events during the 2020 sugaring season for the safety of the producers and their customers. This caused a major loss in sales for many maple producers throughout the maple producing region. While COVID-19 is likely to still be a concern for the 2021 sugaring season, we now have a better understanding of the virus and protective measures to keep everyone safe while staying open for business. Those measures and best practices are detailed in this guidance.
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Processing maple syrup into value-added products can increase product diversity, sales and producer profits. When considering the variety of potential value-added products, such as salad dressings, coated nuts, seasoning products, and sauces, it is important to evaluate the ingredients for their allergen risk potential and add the proper allergen statements to food product labels. This will ensure that you produce quality products and protect potentially susceptible consumers.
Cornell University’s Maple Specialist, Steve Childs, offers this video series for beginning sugarmakers.
Creating a food safety plan can help you maintain high-quality production and can help you when training new employees. This model food safety plan for maple is based on the recommendations made in the U.S. Food and Drug AdministrationÕs Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (PDF), on the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act and on industry recognized food safety practices.
Template for creating a food safety plan for your sugaring operation.
Good agricultural practices (GAPs) and good handling practices (GHPs) encompass the general procedures that growers, packers, and processors of fresh fruits and vegetables should follow to ensure the safety of their product. GAPs usually deal with preharvest practices (i.e., in the field), while GHPs cover postharvest practices, including packing, storage, and shipping. This factsheet covers GAPs relating to packing operation sanitation.
To ensure safe food and adequate sanitation programs, the equipment used for processing and handling food products must be designed, fabricated, constructed, and installed according to sound sanitary design principles. This ensures the equipment can be adequately cleaned and sanitized, and that surfaces are resistant to daily exposure to corrosive food products and cleaning/sanitizing chemicals. Equipment that does not meet basic sanitary design principles, or is installed or used improperly cannot be adequately cleaned and sanitized.
As part of the Food Safety on the Farm series, a collection that reviews the generally recognized principles of GAPs as they relate to produce, primarily at the farm level and with particular focus on fresh Florida crops and practices, this publication provides an overview of GAPs.
Good agricultural practices (GAPs) and good handling practices (GHPs) encompass the general procedures that growers, packers, and processors of fresh fruits and vegetables should follow to ensure the safety of their product. GAPs usually deal with preharvest practices (i.e., in the field), while GHPs cover postharvest practices, including packing and shipping. This factsheet covers GAPs and GHPs relating to worker health and hygiene. There are seven other UF/IFAS Extension factsheets in the ÔFood Safety on the FarmÕ series that focus on specific aspects of the GAPs program and how they relate to Florida crops and practices.
The final rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) have been issued, after several years of drafts and revisions, and concern about what the new regulations would mean for maple producers. Based on a read of the rules, and a discussion with Jenny Scott, Senior Advisor at the Office of Food Safety of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, for most sugarmakers the impact will be minimal.