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Improving Access and Motivation for Small and Medium Processors in the Northeast to be in Compliance with FSMA’s Preventive Controls Rule

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Department of Project: 
Department of Food Science
Project Description: 

Many small and medium producers and processors are affected by the recent implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulation as the existing training does not address how to determine compliance and assumes that small and medium food processors (SMPs) begin training with a base level of food safety knowledge that many SMPs do not have. This project develops accessible, scale-appropriate, motivational mixed-media content to provide SMPs with the information they need to better understand how to implement Preventive Controls (PC) in their food businesses.

Project Goals and Objectives:

The goal of this project is to make information regarding Preventive Controls accessible and motivating for small and medium-sized processors. The long-term goal of this work aims to increase the number of processors nationwide that develop and implement FSMA mandated food safety plans, thus serving to reduce the overall risk of foodborne illness.

To achieve these goals, we focus on three primary objectives:

  1. Develop, deliver, and evaluate learnings from Preventive Controls trainings for small & medium sized processors (SMP) to identify gaps in accessibility and opportunities to motivate behavioral change.
  2. Develop mixed-media extension content that addresses gaps in accessibility and opportunities to motivate SMPs to increase compliance with PC.
  3. Disseminate and evaluate mixed-media content to implement an accessible and motivating PC program.

Relevance:

The Preventive Controls (PC) for Human Food Rule, found within the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), addresses critical food safety needs within the supply chain, but also creates significant regulatory hurdles for small and medium sized processors (SMP). SMPs encounter barriers that inhibit PC compliance, including a lack of knowledge regarding how the implementation of PC will impact their businesses. Lack of access to this information can prevent SMPs from making a fully informed decision regarding voluntary compliance when exempt. For SMPs that are required to comply, or choose to comply, existing training resources are often insufficient in meeting their needs of successfully developing and implementing a FSMA-compliant food safety plan. To address this, wedevelop, evaluate, and disseminateextension content targeted to SMPs that are not currently complying with PC.

Outputs & Extension Materials:

To engage SMPs, we develop and deliver webinars, short workshops, and the FSPCA-PCQI course with supplemental curricula. We follow a subset of SMPs through the journey of learning about PC, developing and implementing food safety plans, and experiencing a third-party audit. During this process, we report through written and video-documented case studies to make case study content and format motivating, accessible, and reflective of SMPs’ actual experiences. At the end of the project, we disseminate all content directly to food safety communicators throughout the Northeast through the FDA-supported Northeast Regional Center (NECAFS), which includes food safety extension and educators, regulators, and other food system organizations. We also house all content online in the nationally-supported Food Safety Clearing house, a curated source of food safety related resources that maximizes outreach efforts nationally. The mixed-media content supports businesses in developing and implementing food safety plans.

Past recorded sessions:

If you are a SMP and would like to join our list serve to learn more about the latest news and events, please email us at: valueaddedfood@umass.edu

Support:

This work is supported by the Food Safety Outreach Program grant no. 015331-00002 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Acknowledgements:

We gratefully acknowledge the expertise and engagement contributed by the following project partners: