Food Safety

Produce Safety University

Last Modified: 08/25/2014

What is Produce Safety University (PSU)?
PSU is a one-week training course designed to help school foodservice staff identify and manage food safety risks associated with fresh produce. PSU addresses produce purchased from traditional suppliers, direct from farmers, and through the DoD Fresh program.

The course was developed jointly by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Training materials based on the course curriculum are available at the Produce Safety Resources Page.

What topics are taught in PSU?
The PSU curriculum covers all aspects of the fresh produce supply chain including growing, harvesting, storage, and preparation. Through PSU, participants learn about the following topics:

  • Understanding Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Handling Practices (GHPs).
  • Writing specifications for fresh and fresh-cut produce.
  • Assessing produce upon receiving to ensure that it meets bid specifications.
  • Storing fresh produce properly.
  • Handling fresh produce during food preparation and service.

PSU includes a combination of classroom training, laboratory instruction, and field trips. Previous classes have visited fresh-cut processing facilities, produce distributors, a terminal market, and farms.

How does PSU support Farm to School?
The PSU curriculum addresses fresh produce from all sources, including farms. Farm to School is integrated into classroom lectures and discussion throughout the course. Participants leave with increased knowledge of farming operations and business practices, which helps them communicate and partner with farmers. Participants also learn about local and regional sourcing on field trips to produce distributors.

Many participants are involved in Farm to School efforts at the state or local levels. Past participants have integrated PSU training materials into conference programs, workshops, seminars, or other trainings that support Farm to School.

Find out more about Farm to School.

How many classes have been held?
FNS and AMS held three classes in 2010 and five classes in 2011, 2012, and 2013. A total of 550 participants have attended PSU . Many “graduates” now conduct produce safety training at the state and local levels using resources developed for the course.

FNS will offer five classes in 2014.

Who can attend?
PSU is open to State Agency staff who work with the National School Lunch Program and school foodservice program directors and staff who operate the National School Lunch Program at the local level.

How can I attend?
FNS invites State Agencies to nominate participants to attend PSU. FNS is accepting nominations for 2014 classes until December 2, 2013. If you are interested in attending a future PSU class, contact your State Agency that administers Child Nutrition Programs or Food Distribution Programs.

Are training materials available?
Training materials and resources have been developed with the following federal agencies and partners:

  • USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI)
  • School Nutrition Foundation (SNF)

Videos, fact sheets, webinars, and training presentations are posted on the FNS website on the Produce Safety Resources Page.