Managing Sanitation Training with a Rapidly Changing Foodservice Staff
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/managing-sanitation-training-with-a-rapidly-changing-foodservice-staff/
By Danielle M. Gleason, C.H.E., C.S.C.(Nov 15, 2016)
Managing Sanitation Training with a Rapidly Changing Foodservice Staff
Ignoring fundamental food safety practices can result in foodborne illnesses, which directly affects both businesses and their customers. If an employee is not properly trained in foodservice sanitation and safety, and does not take these tasks seriously, their place of work will inevitably suffer. Unfortunately, many times, food safety falls to the wayside when there are issues either finding or keeping quality employees. Luckily, there are easy steps any owner or manager can take to eliminate potential problems.
The foodservice industry employs people from all cultures who arrive from a variety of socio- and economic backgrounds. Unlike many other lines of work, these individuals are more likely to move in and out of this industry as the job market fluctuates. Those who want to be part of the foodservice world enter for various reasons. Some do it because they feel a passion for the work; some think it can lead to money or fame; some start because they could not find a job elsewhere. The sad but true reality of those factors, and several others, results in some people becoming employed as foodservice workers even though they may not have been appropriately educated in professional practices.
It is rarely the intention of an employer to hire someone that does not have proper training. Often, when deciding to hire a new employee, one needs to assume that the applicant’s earlier employment history (if accurate) demonstrates that they are well-versed in everyday foodservice sanitation procedures. Unfortunately, that is not always a correct assumption to make.
Additionally, many foodservice workers encounter an environment where the leadership may have hired and trained various individuals swiftly, breezing over common-sense practices. Of course, there are other measurements in place to catch these types of hires. One example is a county certification to show the needed proof of knowledge of food safety. Unfortunately, even training established by a governing body can be swift and ineffective for continuing practice and comprehension.
The higher demand for employees in today’s restaurant business can often result in a position being filled by a worker who may not always be the best fit for it. It’s not uncommon to see a dishwasher helping with prep, for example, chopping onions and peeling potatoes. When a less-than-reliable employee shows up late, someone else might be pulled aside to plate a few salads, ideally with direction. If that same employee shows up in a state that results in their termination, that reliable dishwasher might become promoted to pantry cook, perhaps with no additional or official training.
Some of the best restaurant employees have been the people who have worked their way up the brigade system—those who were not trained in a classical or formal sense and may not have received some of the training that is needed. Every kitchen has that employee: the one you need to go behind and clean up after, constantly remind to wash their hands, the ones that need to be reminded everyday of simple tasks to keep the kitchen a clean and safe environment.
It is not uncommon to come across professional foodservice workers who have a pessimistic attitude about food handling safety. This person rarely cleans effectively and only occasionally washes their hands, incurring several food code violations. How do we fix this?
The first step is to take a little extra time. Mangers and other trainers must consistently train and retrain employees in sanitation effectiveness. The same emphasis that is put on teaching knife cuts and presentation should also be given to sanitation. Failing to train any employee—especially the least experienced or least energized employee—can lead to serious problems that may lead to the end of a business. No matter where contamination happens in the flow of food preparation, we must be aware of the severity of its aftermath. We can speak all day of procedures and plans but we need to ensure that a precedent is set; the best teacher is one who teaches by example.
What are those examples?
• Train all employees on proper temperatures of cooking, cooling, storing and reheating products.
• Make single-use gloves available, and remind employees how and when to use them.
• Place signs near hand-washing sinks, and remind employees when it is required for them to do so.
• Make clean aprons and towels available for all employees, and provide a proper disposal area for them.
• Do not allow any employees to work while ill.
The first issue that comes to mind is when a person contracts a foodborne illness. Many questions are raised in this situation: How does a business handle the situation? Has that illness been proven by a doctor or a government agency? Has the source of the illness been discovered? Has it been contained, tested and documented? Have the proper procedures been followed? If the answer is “no” to some of these questions, the cost of the medical, legal, and personal monies that may be demanded by litigation may be high, but the overall injury to the business itself can run much deeper.
These are some of the other costs that an establishment, regardless of its size, can encounter due to a foodborne illness:
• Reduced revenue
• Battered reputation
• Damaging media coverage
• Extensive legal fees and litigations
• Low staff morale
• High employee absenteeism
• Increased insurance premium/loss of coverage
• Loss of time and money spent on staff retraining
A 2016 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that more than half of foodborne outbreaks were linked to restaurants. Are you concerned about improving your sanitation practices while keeping your staff numbers at needed levels, despite employee training?
Here are easy steps you can put in place:
• Create a sanitation plan; communicate that plan verbally and visually; then follow-up.
• Include employees in the sanitation plan, and allow for collaboration through meetings and team ownership.
• Train employees efficiently during on-the-job work training; if it is a part of your standard operating procedure, it will be simple to implement.
• Create online sanitation training and testing practices to meet orientation guidelines, and for continuing training for all employees.
• Limit food contact in preparation; the clean, separate, cook, chill1 guide simplifies food handling practices.
• Use best practices for safety and regulations.
For business owners, the direct impact is personal, yet it has a ripple effect. The business ends up losing out, and all stakeholders are affected in many ways, by a foodborne illness.
Chef Danielle M. Gleason C.H.E., C.S.C. has been an instructor at Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies in Louisville, Ky. for 13 years. She is a ServSafe-certified instructor/proctor and also teaches online sanitation courses. She sits on the board for the Salvation Army in Louisville and is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International.
FSMA Training: HACCP Isn’t Enough
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/fsma-training-haccp-isne28099t-enough/
By Kathy Hardee, Esq., and Gabriella Ilaria, Esq. (Nov 15, 2016)
FSMA Training: HACCP Isn’t Enough
As the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) deadlines pass or quickly approach, companies subject to FSMA must create and implement a food safety Plan (also referred to as Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls or HARPC). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s final rules implementing new preventive controls for human and animal food requires the creation and implementation of a food safety plan for each individual facility. A food safety plan must be created and overseen by a preventive controls-qualified individual (PCQI) as defined by FSMA. In order to qualify, a PCQI should be an already existing employee, third-party consultant or committee of individuals who have completed training under an FDA-approved curriculum or have the equivalent on-the-job experience. FDA, through the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA), has recently approved a standardized curriculum for training PCQIs. This leaves companies with the question following question: If my company is already HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) compliant, do we need the FDA-approved training? Discussed below is a brief overview of the requirements for a food safety plan , a PCQI and the difference between HARPC and HACCP.
One of the key requirements in the new preventive controls for human and animal foods is that facilities must create and implement a food safety plan that reflects the new focus on HARPC. The plan must contain a written Hazard Analysis, identifying known or reasonably foreseeable biological, chemical and physical hazards; written preventive controls including process controls, food allergen controls and sanitation controls; written supply chain controls; a written recall plan; written procedures for monitoring the implementation of the preventive controls; written corrective action procedures; and written verification procedures. Each facility site must have its own food safety plan specifically designed for that facility to prevent or minimize the identified hazards. In order to ensure effective compliance to this new standard, FDA requires the food safety plan be created and implemented by a PCQI.
In early proposed drafts of the rule, FDA required a qualified individual to create and implement a food safety plan. Due to the pervasiveness of the term “qualified individual” throughout all of the proposed FSMA rules, each with different qualification requirements, FDA changed the language to PCQI. The new language was used to distinguish someone qualified to create and implement the preventive controls key to the new food safety plan versus others who were considered qualified individuals with less or different training for other FSMA rules.
According to the rule, a PCQI is defined as “a person who has successfully completed training in the development and application of risk-based preventive controls at least equivalent to that received under a standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the FDA or is otherwise qualified through job experience to develop and apply a food safety system.” A PCQI can be an employee or can be an outside third party. But without training in the approved curriculum, how does one know whether their PCQI is equally qualified through on the job training?
Many companies and third-party safety consultants make the mistake of assuming that HACCP training or HACCP compliance will meet these new FSMA requirements. HACCP compliance and FSMA compliance are similar but have important differences—differences that can’t necessarily be understood without PCQI training. At a fundamental level, HACCP focuses on preventing post-process contamination, whereas the FSMA food safety plan takes a more preventive focus, identifying potential risks and implementing appropriate controls to proactively prevent contamination. The food safety plan focuses on science or risk-based preventive controls, whereas HACCP focuses on CCPs. The food safety plan focuses on known hazards that could “reasonably occur.” Hazards to consider under the food safety plan may exist because they are inherent to the raw material or product, because they occur through error during the process or because they are caused deliberately. The risk-based analysis must look backward to the risk that may come with raw materials or ingredients. It also must look forward to risks that might arise after a product leaves the facility.
What are the consequences of creating an inadequate food safety plan by someone not qualified? FDA can take action, ranging from a warning letter to bringing criminal charges and suspending the food facility’s registration. Additionally, if contaminated food comes from a facility without an adequate food safety plan created by a PCQI, harmed individuals may have a stronger liability claim based on negligence. Noncompliance with a federal regulation could be seen as a violation of a company’s standard of care in a court of law and could mean even bigger damage payouts.
Utilizing someone trained as a PCQI is critical, whether using someone internally or hiring a consultant. Relying on “equivalent on the job experience” or HACCP training is a risk not worth taking. Creating a food safety plan that is FSMA compliant rather than HACCP compliant is mandatory. The good news is that FDA has now approved a curriculum for PCQIs. Currently, FSPCA is offering nationwide training. For more information on available course locations, dates, instructors or pricing, please visit www.ifsh.iit.edu/fspca. Three days of training is more than worth the risk of noncompliance.
Kathy Hardee, Esq., is co-chair of the Food & Agriculture Industry Group at Polsinelli, PC, which is composed of a team of attorneys from every legal practice area and who each have a focused background in the food industry.
Gabrielle Ilaria, Esq., is a Toxic and Mass Tort associate at Polsinelli, PC.
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3 Ways to Maintain Food Safety from Farm to Table
Source : http://www.wholefoodsmagazine.com/blog/3-ways-maintain-food-safety-farm-table/
By Adam Lowry (Nov 11, 2016)
Americans have become more health-conscious in recent years: opting for nutritious meals over artificial foods, scrutinizing ingredient labels, and gravitating toward organic produce. But there’s only so much consumers can do for themselves. Food brands must deliver safe, high-quality goods, because lives really do hang in the balance.
Food contamination cases have proved the dangers of mishandled produce. Five people died from E. coli poisoning in 2006 after eating spinach packaged on a California farm. Likewise, eight people died and 500 became sick in 2009 after contracting salmonella from a tainted batch of Georgia peanuts.
Fears over such contamination have driven demands for greater transparency from manufacturers. Sales of organic foods grow by 22 percent each year, but an organic label doesn’t mean much if the food isn’t safe. Manufacturers must ensure safety from their suppliers’ farms to their customers’ tables.
Food safety practices are essential to sustainability, both in terms of environmental stewardship and business-customer relationships. The companies that provide the safest foods and tread most lightly on the planet are those that use plant and animal resources most effectively. They’re also the ones consumers count on for safe, nourishing foods.
The U.S. has some of the most comprehensive food safety standards in the world, and we have fewer instances of food-borne illnesses than most countries. Still, contamination happens. And consumers hold manufacturers accountable through their purchases, sending their money to companies that demonstrate their safety records and processes.
But what do those processes need to be? For companies wanting to fit that safe, sustainable mold, here are some practices to embrace.
Unless your dinner table is in the middle of a pasture, there will be a process of transporting food from the manufacturers to the consumers. To have any chance of remaining safe and clean over miles of highway travel, food must be packaged to keep dirt, disease, and the elements at bay. Most food products need to be packaged in a completely sanitary, aseptic environment before they hit the road. Good food safety practice is a prerequisite to sustainability, and it all starts here.
2. Redundancies for human — and machine — error.
Whether food is handled on an assembly line or individually inspected by hand, there’s a chance for issues to slip through the cracks. Make sure with a second set of eyes that every package loaded onto the truck is free of defects. It may slow things down, but a contamination scare will do far more damage — even a properly sourced and sustainable product could lose its high-quality reputation.
Clean chains of custody.
The brunt of the focus on sustainability is placed on manufacturing processes, but that isn’t the whole equation. The specific processes for ensuring safety can vary by food type, but cleanliness is number one — and that doesn’t stop at the farm. From the field to the trucks to the shelves to the checkout line, the same standards must apply across the board. Transportation, distribution, handling, and merchandising should all be handled in a manner consistent with clean and safe food handling practice.
When it comes to food safety, knowledge is power. The more you do to protect against food-borne illnesses, the safer you and your customers will be.
Adam Lowry is the co-founder of Ripple Foods, a company that exists to make dairy-free foods high in protein, low in sugar, loaded with nutrition, and delicious. Adam believes that business is our greatest vehicle for positive social and environmental change. Connect with Ripple Foods on Twitter.
NOTE: The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.
Listeria Monocytogenes Found in Simply Fresh Fruit Facility
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/listeria-monocytogenes-found-in-simply-fresh-fruit-facility/
By News Desk (Nov 10, 2016)
The FDA sent a warning letter on October 19, 2016 to Simply Fresh Fruit of Vernon, California, informing them that environmental swabs taken in their facility found Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Federal inspectors also discovered violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practices. These findings make the ready to eat fresh cut fruit products adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The FDA issued Form FDA-483 after the inspections.
Three of one hundred environmental swabs in the facility’s high care processing room were positive for Listeria bacteria. Two of those were in locations adjacent to food contact surfaces. They include the panel surface and power switch on the side of a wash bin, and a power knob for a conveyor belt. The other swab was found on a squeegee used to push water into a floor drain.
In addition, finished product was found to be positive for Listeria monocytogenes on March 28, 2016, according to the warning letter. A recall notice posted on US Foods on April 15, 2016 informs its customers about a Listeria monocytogenes recall from Simply Fresh Fruit for fruit salads and cantaloupes.
Whole genome sequencing analysis was conducted on the three Listeria isolates collected, and one Listeria isolate found on cut cantaloupe. This analysis found that the four isolates belong to the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes, indicating that all four of them originated from the same source of contamination.
These findings demonstrate that the facility’s “sanitation efforts are inadequate to effectively control pathogens on your processing equipment and in your facility to prevent contamination of food. Furthermore, L. monocytogenes found in the environment of your facility increases the risk of your finished product becoming contaminated. Once established in a production area, personnel or equipment can facilitate the pathogen’s movement and contamination of food-contact surfaces and finished product. It is essential to identify the areas of the food processing plant where this organism is able to grow and survive, and to take such corrective actions as necessary to eradicate the organism by rendering these areas unable to support the growth and survival of the organism.”
Simply Fresh Fruit responded by saying that the “condition of the dairy tile flooring” was the root cause of the contamination. They implemented more aggressive sanitation procedures and made corrections to the floors.
The violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations include: an employee was working on melons with a knife, then used that knife to turn on the conveyor belt. He continued to handle the ready to eat melon chunks without first cleaning or sanitizing the gloves. One employee on a forklift went through standing water to deliver pallets containing pre-washed fruit to the high care receiving area.
The firm failed to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces in wet processing before use. Citrus fruit build-up was observed on the scrub brush washer. Adequate floor drainage was not provided. A large amount of standing water was observed near the scrub brush washer machine which is used to pre-wash and sanitize whole fruit.
Simply Fresh Fruit has 15 working days to respond to the letter, outlining specific corrective steps. There is no information about this issue on the FDA site.
Federal law gags FDA on recall as vaccination window closes
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/11/federal-law-gags-fda-on-recall-as-vaccination-window-closes/#.WDuRSvmLSUl
BY CORAL BEACH (Nov 9, 2016)
County and state health departments continue to dribble out details on restaurants, schools and other foodservice operations that received and served frozen strawberries from Egypt that are under recall for Hepatitis A contamination as time runs out for potential victims to receive post-exposure vaccinations.
The post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) must be administered within two weeks or it is not effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An ongoing outbreak traced to the strawberries has sickened 134 people in nine states.
It has been nearly impossible for potential victims to receive the post-exposure vaccine because a comprehensive list of where the strawberries were served is not available to the public.
Food and Drug Administration officials are gagged when it comes to revealing distribution lists for recalled foods by clauses in federal code designed to protect corporations.
The Egyptian strawberry producer recalled the frozen strawberries between Oct. 25 and Oct. 30, based on varying reports from corporate and government sources. The frozen berries have been served as recently as Nov. 1, according to Wyoming officials, a day after the strawberry recall notice was posted on the FDA’s website.
Because federal law protects “confidential corporate information,” the FDA could only name the five foodservice distributors that sent the potentially contaminated berries to restaurants, schools, hospitals, hotels and other operations. The distributors have not revealed their customer lists.
Public health officials in some areas have been scrambling to find out where the frozen strawberries went so they can alert the public about the potential danger and how to obtain post-exposure vaccines.
Wyoming and Texas joined their counterparts California, Michigan and Colorado in posting public health alerts about the frozen strawberries from Egypt’s International Company for Agricultural Production and Processing (ICAPP).
USDA gag removed years ago
Similar situations with recalls under the jurisdiction of the USDA’s Food Service and Inspection Service led to a change almost 10 years ago that removed the distribution list gag from hat agency. FSIS now routinely posts lists of retail locations that received meat or poultry products that are recalled.
The change was partly in response to efforts of the Safe Food Coalition. Active since 1993, the coalition includes the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Food and Water Watch, National Consumers League, the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention, STOP Foodborne Illness, and the Government Accountability Project.
Coalition representatives worked through the federal rulemaking process along with USDA staff to effect the change, which was published in the Federal Register on July 17, 2008, and went into effect on Aug. 8 that year.
“Some industry commenters opposing the proposal stated that retail consignee information is protected from mandatory public disclosure by Exemption 4 of the (Freedom of Information Act) FOIA because it is confidential business or commercial information, and the potential value of this information would not outweigh the competitive harm that would be caused by its release. They pointed out that FSIS has traditionally treated a company’s distribution list as confidential business information,” according to the Federal Register notice.
“… In considering the application of Exemption 4, (the agency) has determined that the names and locations of retail consignees of recalled meat and poultry products compiled by the agency do not constitute confidential commercial information because the disclosure of this information will not impair the agency’s ability to obtain necessary information in the future and will not cause substantial harm to the competitive position of any business.”
Even with the new rule in place, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service does not actually publish a corporation’s distribution list. Instead, agency staff must spend time to compile lists for publication.
Television cooking shows overlook safe food handling practices
Source : https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161108123824.htm
By sciencedaily.com (Nov 8, 2016)
Television cooking shows are an important resource for home cooks, but if these shows fail to model recommended food safety measures, it may lead to poor practices among consumers. Therefore, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst devised a study to assess food safety on television food shows and determine whether they present positive or negative models for viewers.
Many programs miss the opportunity to model proper safety measures, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Forty-eight million cases of foodborne illness are reported annually in the United States, including 3,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These illnesses can result from improper food safety practices in retail settings, but illness from food prepared at home is also a concern; yet, little is known about illness from consumer practice. Television cooking shows are an important resource for home cooks, but if these shows fail to model recommended food safety measures, it may lead to poor practices among consumers. Therefore, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst devised a study to assess food safety on television food shows and determine whether they present positive or negative models for viewers.
Adherence to food safety practices by consumers has declined in recent years. For example, fewer consumers reported washing hands before handling food, cooking to required temperatures, or separating meat and poultry from ready-to-eat foods in 2011 than in 2008 or 2010. Only 33% of consumers said they trusted the government for food safety information, whereas more than half trusted media. An overwhelming majority (73%) obtained food safety information from media, and 22% of those used cooking shows as their primary source of information. Likewise, in a poll of television viewers, 50% of respondents watched some television cooking shows, and 57% reported purchasing items based on those shows.
To study food safety on television cooking shows, researchers developed a 19-question survey. The survey was adapted from the Massachusetts Food Establishment Inspection Report and measured hygienic food practices, use of utensils and gloves, protection from contamination, and time and temperature control. In addition, whether food safety practices were mentioned was recorded. A panel of state regulators and food safety practitioners participated in the assessment, viewing 10 popular cooking shows, with two to six episodes per show watched for a total of 39 episodes.
"The majority of practices rated were out of compliance or conformance with recommendations in at least 70% of episodes and food safety practices were mentioned in only three episodes," said lead author Nancy L. Cohen, PhD, RD, LDN, FAND. "Only four practices were observed to be in compliance or conformance with recommendations in more than 50% of the episodes. For most behaviors observed, the percentage of shows in conformance with recommended practices was much lower than that seen in restaurant employees and consumers in general."
Although the assessment showed many issues regarding food safety on television cooking shows, room for improvement was easily identified by the researchers. For instance, steps toward improvement could include requiring food safety training for chefs and contestants, modifying the structural environment to support safe food handling, incorporating food safety as a judging criterion in competitions, and incorporating food safety in scripts.
"There are many opportunities on cooking shows to educate the public regarding safe food handling practices and help reduce the incidence of foodborne illness," Cohen said. "Similarly, nutrition and food safety educators could work with the media to produce shows that demonstrate positive food safety behaviors and educate consumers about food safety practices as they adopt recipes."
SKorea’s new 7-language food safety site boosts food cluster
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/11/skoreas-new-7-language-food-safety-site-boosts-food-cluster/#.WDuRuvmLSUl
BY NEWS DESK (NOV 7, 2016)
South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety is now hosting a new website in multiple languages, a move that certainly supports the government’s new National Food Cluster.
The National Food Cluster – more than 150 food and food research and development units – is coming out of the ground near Iskan in southwestern Korea. By rail, that’s about 90 minutes south of the where the Ministry is, near Osong station south of Seoul.
The seven-language website will close that distance with sections on food, drugs, agriculture, fish and livestock, and cosmetics and medical devices, in addition to food safety. The site also breaks down the Ministry into its functional parts.
Sohn Mungi, minister of food and drug safety, said his agency exists to protect and promote public health. He says as more people become health conscious, they are demanding safe and reliable food.
The National Food Cluster is one of President Geun-hye Park’s “creative economy” projects, designed to spur job growth from selected industries
Korea has invested $500 million in the National Food Cluster, including three state-of-the-art of research and development units for food safety, quality and packaging. Food companies from China, Japan and other counties interesting in Asia have been joined the cluster.
At build-out the food cluster, which is called Foodpolis, will employ 22,000 and generate annual revenues of $14 billion.
New study to help growers implement water treatment, minimize food safety risks
Source : https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/uoti-nst110716.php
UTIA food scientist to lead multistate effort
By eurekalert.org (Nov 7, 2016)
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE INSTITUTE OF AGRICULTURE
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Faith Critzer, a food safety specialist with University of Tennessee Extension, will lead a new multistate research and outreach project to help fruit and vegetable growers mitigate the risks their water sources might pose to the safety of their produce.
This effort is made possible through USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Food Safety Outreach Program. The $522,000 grant was announced in October. Critzer and her colleagues at the University of Tennessee, Annette Wszelaki, a vegetable production specialist, and John Buchanan, a biosystems engineer, have joined with Extension specialists from New Mexico State University, North Carolina State University, the University of Florida and Virginia Tech. This team's work will help growers understand and become compliant with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) produce safety rule.
"In our roles as Extension specialists, members of our team have received numerous questions and have had many discussions with growers who currently use surface water for irrigation or application of preventive sprays," said Critzer. "The growers understand that surface water can become contaminated with microorganisms that can make people ill if consumed, also known as foodborne pathogens, and they do not want to rely upon monitoring via water testing, which only gives a snapshot of one period in time and may not detect intermittent problems that commonly arise with these water sources." So to help the growers protect their produce, Critzer and the other team members are working to develop training that will equip them with the knowledge to successfully implement water treatment systems on their farms.
Specifically, the team plans to develop a curriculum to educate growers of all sizes and backgrounds about agricultural water treatment systems. Once developed, the Extension specialists will share their curriculum with other specialists who will then train growers. The team also plans to evaluate the short-term and medium-term outcomes that adoption of the curriculum and knowledge of the technology achieves in terms of improved compliance with FSMA regulations.
"Fruit and vegetable growers are concerned about the standards for water applied in the field during irrigation and in protective sprays," said Critzer. "This curriculum, which will include hands-on demonstrations, should help growers understand the water quality standards and help them make educated decisions about how to use water treatment systems for this purpose and what systems may work best for their farms."
Critzer and her team are very pleased to be tackling this project. "This funding addresses a need that has come directly from our clientele," she said. "The growers are well educated. They know that foodborne pathogens can potentially come from the environment such as in run-off from rain and from wild and domesticated animals. They want to be proactive in protecting the crops they are growing, and most importantly, to protect the consumers who will be eating the produce with their families," said Critzer.
The project team expects to develop the curriculum and begin initial "train-the-trainer" sessions over the next two years.
Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu
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