USDA unveils new online food safety tool for farms

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has unveiled a free online tool aimed at helping farmers lower their risk of contamination on the farm by generating customized food safety plans.

How farmers grow, pack, and trace produce has become a major concern following numerous deadly foodborne safety illness outbreaks in recent years.

The new tool was developed with consultation from small and large farmers.

It lets users input details about how they grow and handle fruits and vegetables. Then, it offers suggestions for how farms can create food safety plans and prepare to be audited.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said Thursday that the new federally funded resource will go a long way to improve production processes in fields and orchards, at no cost to the industry.

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