SAVANNAH, Ga. — The Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association is giving its food safety program a new name and officially expanding it nationally.

Produce Food Safety Services more clearly communicates the program’s mission and primary purpose of the produce safety consultancy service it launched in 2001 and marketed as the Georgia Good Agricultural Practices Food Safety Program or Georgia Gapp.

The LaGrange-based operation is a division of the growers association and the rebranding also includes a new logo and an expanded range of services.

Beth Bland Oleson, who since 2006 has worked for the association as program coordinator and as director of education and food safety coordinator who handled the group’s Good Agricultural Practices program, is director of the new organization.

Through Produce Food Safety Services, the association plans to continue working with growers, packers and shippers as well as processing and cooling operations throughout the U.S., as it has been doing since 2010, she said.

Georgia growers group rebrands food safety divisionThe former name hindered business because many assumed it only worked with Georgia companies, Oleson said.

The program works with a handful of other states considering starting their own food safety services similar to the Georgia model, she said.

“Food safety is no longer an optional program to implement on a farm or in a packing facility,” Oleson said. “It’s now considered a cost of doing business. Because food safety is so critical to the growth and success of our industry, we felt the rebranding and redefinition of our association’s food safety programs needed to be reinforced and expanded.”

The operation develops customized food safety programs which include standard operating procedures, logs, risk assessments, Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point plans and microbiological programs as well as test audits and audit escorts.

Though association members pay a discounted rate, the services are available throughout the U.S., she said.