UMES Extension has food safety specialist to assist you with training and certification | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

UMES Extension has food safety specialist to assist you with training and certification

  • Dr. Melinda Schwarz-TDDr. Melina Schwarz, a food safety specialist with UMES Extension, is the go-to person for assistance on training for Maryland Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule (FSMA PSR), ServSafe Food Safety Manager Certification and FSMA Preventive Controls Rules for Human and Animal Food.

    As part of the Maryland GAP training team, Schwarz has filled a free, two-day, virtual course, Basic GAP Training, for April 21 and 23.  The course was developed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland to highlight farming methods that reduce food safety concerns, especially in fresh produce.  Completing the course, she said, is the first step in the certification process.  By the end of the course, most of the participants should have an individual food safety plan 75% written.  The plan is submitted to MDA and an audit is requested.  You will receive your MD GAP certification after passing the audit for the produce desired.  Schwarz offers one-on-one help with writing the food safety plan as well as conducts farm visits before the audit to help spot any areas of concern and offers suggestions.

    Have questions about Maryland Department of Agriculture registration requirements for produce farms?  Did you know that MDA passed a law in 2019 requiring produce farms (even if you are filing for an exemption for qualified exemption) to register so that an inventory can be compiled of farms in the state that may be covered under the Produce Safety Rule?  Registering, she said, allows MDA to provide technical assistance and outreach about important compliance information and program updates to ensure food safety.  The information is confidential and is only used by MDA.

    Did you also know that if you dry herbs for sale, you require a Maryland Department of Health Processing License?  Dried herbs also require a water activity measure below 0.85 by MDH as an indicator of safe processing. Schwarz can arrange to have samples of your herbs checked for water activity and moisture content at no cost.

    For assistance with the items above, or for information on developing value-added products, contact Schwarz at or call 410-430-0763.