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Louisa Bachman

Summer Scholar 2020 Louisa Bachman
Project: 
Improving Access and Motivation for Small/Medium Processors in the Northeast to be in Compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act
Program Year: 
2020
Major: 
Food Science
Supervisor: 
Amanda Kinchla
Project description 

The Preventive Controls (PC) for Human Food Rule found within the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has recently affected most small food businesses. The PC rule addresses critical food safety needs within the supply chain. The process of implementing this new rule creates significant regulatory hurdles for small and medium-sized food processors.

The premise of this integrated research-extension project was to create new programming targeted to small food processors and entrepreneurs that help to increase their knowledge about the new Preventive Controls Food Safety regulations, and how to integrate food safety plans into their businesses. The course is designed to slowly ease small food business owners into the world of food safety, specifically the Preventive Controls for Human Food through a three-part program series that caters to the learning needs of small processors.

Over the course of the summer, we designed a three-part virtual training series that includes: a one-hour introductory webinar, a three-hour workshop, and a final three day certification course (a regulatory compliance training). The third is offered for free in exchange for participation in the full study. The long-term goal of the project is to increase the number of processors nationwide that develop and implement FSMA mandated food safety plans thereby reducing the overall risk of foodborne illness.

The Preventive Controls (PC) for Human Food Rule found within the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has recently affected most small food businesses. The PC rule addresses critical food safety needs within the supply chain. The process of implementing this new rule creates significant regulatory hurdles for small and medium-sized food processors.

The premise of this integrated research-extension project was to create new programming targeted to small food processors and entrepreneurs that help to increase their knowledge about the new Preventive Controls Food Safety regulations, and how to integrate food safety plans into their businesses. The course is designed to slowly ease small food business owners into the world of food safety, specifically the Preventive Controls for Human Food through a three-part program series that caters to the learning needs of small processors.

Over the course of the summer, we designed a three-part virtual training series that includes: a one-hour introductory webinar, a three-hour workshop, and a final three day certification course (a regulatory compliance training). The third is offered for free in exchange for participation in the full study. The long-term goal of the project is to increase the number of processors nationwide that develop and implement FSMA mandated food safety plans thereby reducing the overall risk of foodborne illness.

What did you do for your internship and how did your work contribute to the goals or objectives of the project? 

Through this experience under Professor Amanda Kinchla I was able to gain a vast knowledge in food safety, food science, food regulation and the design of extension-based adult learning. The ultimate goal of this project is to reduce the risk of foodborne illness by increasing the number of processors nationwide that develop and implement FSMA mandated food safety plans. In order to achieve this, my role included completing an investigative search using New England Farmer’s markets and processors’ websites to build a database of these stakeholders. Additionally, I supported the development of a recruitment plan including designing marketing and communication materials. I designed and updated training materials using existing content and the new PC rule. I provided support to updating content and program materials for the UMass Food Science Extension website. Finally, I worked alongside a graduate student through completing the extensive Internal Review Board (IRB) Human Subjects approval process and provided technical support when needed.

In supporting the recruitment protocols, I was able to build from the ground up a 1,500+ contact list of small and medium processors across the northeast. I prepared a series of recruitment program materials designed to advertise the study as a way to learn to implement the new PC rule and provide a general overview of what one might learn after taking each course. Finally, I supported the development of the extension program content (which I contributed to hosting 4 live-streamed virtual webinars).

How did the internship help you to understand or advance your own future goals (academic, personal or professional)? 

While working on this project, I learned much more about Preventive Controls than I was expecting. Since the start of the project I have signed up to take the FSPCA course to become a Qualified Individual (this is the same certification that the project participants receive after the third course). This certification will last throughout my entire career and is one more exciting piece of experience I can offer a future place of employment. This summer also inspired me to take more microbiology classes this academic year with the hope that I will be able to complete a minor in microbiology.

Overall, working on this project strengthened my understanding of food safety initiatives and my interest in food safety and microbiology. Beyond this, I also learned about different styles of communication and organizational skills from the two professors I worked under. Additionally, seeing the juxtaposition of their roles in the project as a food science extension specialist and resource economist helped me understand the connections of interdisciplinary research.

I established effective organizational skills through building an effective database of processors and learned to be mindful of how to archive files in BOX so others could find and use them. Finally, I worked extensively with one graduate student who taught me about the importance of asking questions and how to advocate for myself when needing help. I had the chance to learn much more and try new things simply by offering to help her with what she was working on. Ultimately, this project gave me great insight into the ins and outs of extension research, different styles of leadership, and what life looks like as a graduate food science student.

Overall, working on this project strengthened my understanding of food safety initiatives and my interest in food safety and microbiology. Beyond this, I also learned about different styles of communication and organizational skills from the two professors I worked under. Additionally, seeing the juxtaposition of their roles in the project as a food science extension specialist and resource economist helped me understand the connections of interdisciplinary research. I established effective organizational skills through building an effective database of processors and learned to be mindful of how to archive files in BOX so others could find and use them. Finally, I worked extensively with one graduate student who taught me about the importance of asking questions and how to self-advocate when needing help. I had the chance to learn much more and try new things simply by offering to help her with what she was working on. Ultimately, this project gave me great insight into the ins and outs of extension research, different styles of leadership, and what life looks like as a graduate food science student.

Additional comments, thoughts or observations about your summer internship 

This was a very interesting opportunity that I was happy to take part in this summer. The project initially excited me because it was a remote opportunity to do work related to my major however I gained much more than I could have expected. I learned about graphic design, food safety laws and regulations, and how to work with a team completely remotely. I believe all of these skills will be useful in the future as I begin my career as a food scientist!

FSMA Chart
Food Safety Regs
Training fyer