In This Issue
Quick Links
PSA-FDA Q & A Series
Archived PSA Newsletters
Working Committee Archives
Farmer Focus Groups
Curriculum Learning Objectives
Key Links to the Proposed Produce Rule
February 25, 2015 
Hello Produce Safety Alliance Members and Welcome New Subscribers!
 

Since our last issue of the PSA newsletter, we've seen a 9% increase in subscribers to the listserve, helping us surpass 1,000 followers! This is great news and we are happy to see the PSA continue to grow. With a final regulation for produce safety on the horizon, we hope to keep everyone up-to-date on the latest information from the FDA, available educational resources, and training opportunities for produce safety trainers and fruit and vegetable growers. Although the proposed Produce Safety Rule is not anticipated to be final until October 2015, it is our intent to begin training activities prior to the final regulation.

 

Our goal with outreach and education is two-fold: to help growers understand produce safety risks on the farm and implement good agricultural practices to reduce those risks; and secondly, help growers understand and comply with the first ever federal regulation for fresh produce. Ultimately, all produce growers should be aware of produce safety risks on their farms regardless of whether they are subject to the proposed regulations because they are growing food that people eat. Demand from produce buyers to adopt GAPs continues, even in the smallest market venues.  So in the name of produce safety and maintaining markets, we boldly move forward.

 

With an estimated 189,000 produce growers in the United States, the task of providing education and outreach will a challenge. In the past five years, the Produce Safety Alliance has established an extensive network of national collaborators and has been guided by two committees (Executive and Steering Committees, listed at the end of this newsletter) who have been diligently engaged in helping to finalize the standardized national curriculum for produce safety on the farm. We would like to extend a big thank you to EVERYONE who has volunteered their time for the Working Committees, to review drafts of the curriculum, share their technical and farming expertise, and those who continue to support the development of the Produce Safety Alliance and its' associated educational programs. 

Produce Safety Alliance Pilot Trainings

The major milestones summarized at the end of this newsletter have shaped the development of the curriculum content, structure of trainings for growers and trainers, and the trainer certification process (still in development). The curriculum was subjected to three open review periods and vetted by members of the Executive and Steering Committees as well as a number of growers, industry members, and educators who were interested in providing constructive feedback. As a result, the PSA piloted two programs with the developed curriculum to evaluate its' effectiveness and appropriateness with two audiences, prospective trainers and produce growers. We are currently in the process of reviewing the evaluation information collected at both pilots, but a brief summary of each program is below.

 

Pilot Train-the-Trainer

December 17-18, 2014, Geneva, NY

 

Thirty-eight individuals including produce growers, members of academia, regulators, and produce industry members convened at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY to evaluate the PSA's proposed Train-the-Trainer program, curriculum materials, and trainer certification process. We cannot thank these individuals enough for their time, effort, and constructive feedback throughout the two day pilot in effort to better refine the final program for national launch. The feedback we received was very positive and we have been working to streamline the curriculum's slide sets and teaching notes. The Train-the-Trainer program will include two days of classroom instruction and will cover discussions of each curriculum module, principles of adult education, considerations for developing training teams and hosting trainings, and available resources for growers from federal programs such NRCS, USDA-AMS, and the FDA. The PSA will continue discussions related to trainer qualifications and the certification process, so stay tuned for more details regarding how to become a trainer as well as dates and locations of Train-the-Trainer Programs. To date, the PSA does not have any Train-the-Trainer workshops scheduled, but we will send out updates through our general listserve as soon as they become available.

 

Pilot Grower Training

January 26, 2015, Hershey, PA

 

With the help of collaborators at Penn State University, the Produce Safety Alliance hosted a pilot training for fresh fruit and vegetable growers at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The pilot was open to the public and, despite the snowy weather, was attended by thirty-three fruit and vegetable growers. The PSA Grower Training will satisfy the FDA proposed Produce Safety Rule requirement that "at least one supervisor or responsible party from the farm to successfully complete food safety training at least equivalent to that received under the standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration (� 112.22(c))." The training for growers is a one day program, with seven curriculum modules including: An Introduction to Produce Safety; Worker Health, Hygiene, and Training; Soil Amendments; Wildlife, Domestic Animals, and Land Use; Agricultural Water; Postharvest Handling and Sanitation; and How to Write a Farm Food Safety Plan. The curriculum has been designed to teach growers how to assess food safety risks on the farm, implement practices to reduce risks, and understand the proposed FDA Produce Safety Rule requirements. The curriculum places an emphasis on small and very-small growers, providing solutions for limited resource farms.

PSA Milestones

We anticipate that this may be the first update letter that many of you are receiving, so welcome and please do not hesitate to contact Betsy Bihn (eab38@cornell.edu) or Gretchen Wall (glw53@cornell.edu) if you have any questions, comments, or feedback to provide. We strive to make all of our activities as transparent as possible to keep everyone informed and we are always open to feedback that will help make our educational programs and activities more effective and efficient.  For those of you who are not new and have been engaged with the PSA, we thank you for your continued support and interest in the program as it has continued to materialize over the past five years and as we prepare to launch nationally. Read on below for some of the PSA's major milestones since 2010. 

 

Oct. 2010
Produce Safety Alliance established
Apr. 2011

PSA website and general listserve launched

The PSA website serves as a repository for educational materials, training information, collaborator contacts, Working Committee notes, summary documents, and FSMA Produce Safety Rule updates. Launched in April 2011, the PSA General listserve currently reaches over 1,000 growers, industry members, regulatory officials, educators, and others interested in produce safety. All monthly listserve e-mails are catalogued on the PSA website at: http://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/news.html

June 2011

GAPs Education & Training Materials Conference - Orlando, FL

Attended by 125 people from 28 states to discuss the PSA's goals and review outreach materials from 40 programs nationwide that have been developed to assist fruit and vegetable growers with understanding and implementing GAPs on farms and in packinghouses. Conference proceedings are available at: http://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/2011%20PSA%20Proceedings.pdf

July 2011 - 
Dec. 2012 
Working Committee Meetings

Ten working committees, including a total of 178 members, discussed the challenges of implementing GAPs on farms to identify critical content areas for the curriculum. In total, the PSA hosted 72 WC meetings to guide the development of curriculum content.  All meeting notes and summary documents are catalogued at: http://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/working.html

May 2012 - 
Nov. 2014 
Curriculum and Training Program Development
A one-day produce safety training program for fruit and vegetable growers has been developed with seven hours of dedicated instruction time, including seven curriculum modules and associated learning objectives.  A Train-the-Trainer Program has been developed in conjunction to ensure a qualified cadre of instructors is available.  

Feb. 2012 -
Apr. 2012

Farmer Focus Groups

Eight focus groups with participation from 89 produce growers were conducted around the country (FL, CA, NY, OH) to understand growers' needs and expectations from produce safety training. A summary of the farmer focus groups is available at: http://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/newsletters/FocusGroupSummary.pdf

Mar. 2013 -
May 2013

PSA-FDA Question and Answer Series on the Proposed Produce Rule

A series of eight free teleconference sessions was hosted with the FDA Produce Safety Staff covering different areas of the proposed Produce Safety Rule.  The calls included discussion about real on-farm situa�tions and questions from farmers, packers, retailers, educators, and industry members. Audio recordings of these sessions are available at: http://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/news.html.

June 2013

Trainer Competency Discussion at Center for Produce Safety Annual Meeting - Rochester, NY

Twenty-seven individuals from academia, industry, and government met prior to the annual CPS conference to discuss qualifications of trainers and logistics of trainer certification. 

Sep. 2013

Produce Safety Educator's Group Formed

The PSA began hosting monthly meetings and FSMA specific webinars for produce safety educators to discuss challenges related to outreach and education, funding for training, and technical assistance. Currently 200+ educators receive monthly updates, meeting notes, and webinar recordings, with an average meeting attendance each month of 35-50. 

Dec. 2014

PSA Train-the-Trainer Pilot - Geneva, NY

Thirty-eight individuals ranging from produce growers, academics, regulators, and produce industry members convened on December 17-18, 2014 at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY to evaluate the PSA's proposed Train-the-Trainer program, curriculum materials, and trainer certification process.

Jan. 2015

PSA Grower Pilot - Hershey, PA

The first pilot grower training was held at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Hershey, PA with the help of Penn State Extension Educators on January 26, 2015. Participation was open to the public. Thirty-three produce growers and 15 observers attended and provided useful feedback on the curriculum materials and training program.

Jan. 2015 - 
Feb. 2015

Pilot Program Evaluation and Revisions

The Train-the-Trainer and Grower Training Pilots are currently being evaluated and modified, prior to nationwide launch of the training programs. 



FDA and FSMA Updates

President's FY 2016 Budget Request: Key Investments for Implementing FSMA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it is requesting an additional $109.5 million for the implementation of FSMA as part of President Obama's FY 2016 budget request, released to Congress on February 3, 2015. For more information, visit the FDA website at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm432576.htm

 

FDA Announces Competitive Grant Program with NIFA to Fund Food Safety Training, Education and Technical Assistance

On January 15, 2015, the FDA announced the availability of funding and requests applications for Grants to Enhance Food Safety: National Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Competitive Grants Program for fiscal year (FY) 2015 to address the needs of small and medium-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, small processors, or small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers, especially as they relate to the implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  For more information, visit: http://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/ucm430492.htm

 

Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Comment Period Open until March 13, 2015

The Environmental Impact Statement examines the effects that the FDA's proposed Produce Safety Rule may have on natural resources as well as how those impacts are weighed against other factors. The FDA released the draft EIS on January 12, 2015 to assesses the environmental and socioeconomic impacts for the provisions within the proposed Produce Safety Rule that the FDA has determined may significantly affect the quality of the human environment. The FDA held a public meeting on February 10, 2015 to discuss the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed rule and to solicit oral stakeholder and public comments. To learn more about the EIS, public meeting discussion, and how to submit comments, visit the following FDA web links.

 

EIS Homepage:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm396564.htm


Questions & Answers on the EIS with Annette McCarthy:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm429368.htm

News From Our Sister Alliances
New Media for GAPs Education and Training
PSA Executive Committee Members
Cornell University
  • Elizabeth (Betsy) Bihn, Ph.D., PSA Director
  • Robert Gravani, Ph.D., Professor
     
Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO)
  • Byron Beerbower, Compliance Manager, Michigan Dept. of Agriculture & Rural Development
  • Stephen Stich, Director, Div. of Food Safety & Inspection New York State Dept. of Ag. & Markets
     
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA)
  • Bob Ehart, NASDA Public Policy Director
  • Dan Ragan, Director of the Food and Drug Protection Division of the NC Dept. of Ag.
     
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • Samir Assar, Ph.D., Director Produce Safety Staff, FDA Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition
  • Cathy McDermott, FDA Division of Federal State Relations
  • We would like to recognize the contributions of Dr. Erick Snellman, policy analyst with the FDA Produce Safety Staff, and a valuable member of our Executive committee, who passed away in August 2014. 
     
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service
  • Jennifer Dougherty, Audit Programs Coordinator USDA, AMS, Fruit & Vegetable Programs
  • Charles Parrot, Deputy Administrator, Fruit & Vegetable Program, USDA
  • Leanne Skelton, USDA, AMS Fruit & Vegetable Programs, Senior Policy Analyst, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
     
U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Diane Gelburd, Ph.D., Special Assistant to the Chief for Strategic Natural Resources Initiatives
  • Karen Lowell, Ph.D., Agronomist
PSA Steering Committee Members & Working Committee Summaries
The Working Committee process was open to the public and concluded in December 2012. We greatly appreciate the contributions of all WC members and Steering Committee Co-Chairs who led the process. For more information about the outcomes of each committee, click on the committee's title to read the summary report. 

57 members
Benjamin Chapman - Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University
James Theuri - Extension Educator, University of Illinois Extension

 

Diane Ducharme - NCSU GAPs Program Coordinator
Brian Reeves - Owner Reeves Farms

 

WC 3: Core Curriculum/Hazards & Preventive Controls - Farm Review

44 members

Robert Hadad - Cornell Cooperative Extension
Henry Giclas - Senior Vice President Science & Technology, Strategic Planning

 

Fred Finney - Owner, Moreland Fruit Farm Ltd
Karen Killinger - Associate Professor, Washington State University

 

WC 5: Core Curriculum/Hazards & Preventive Controls - Harvest

55 members

Reggie Brown - Manager, Florida Tomato Committee
Trevor Suslow - Extension Research Specialist, University of California, Davis

 

Wesley Kline - Agricultural Agent - Cumberland County, Rutgers
Barry Eisenberg - Vice President of Food Safety Services, United Fresh Produce Association

 

WC 7: Train the Trainer Lesson Plan

45 members

James Rushing - Manager of International Training Programs, JIFSAN
Michael Villaneva - Technical Director, California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement

 

WC 8: Education Outreach Program Delivery - Farmers & Trainers

68 members

Craig Kahlke - Extension Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension
Keith Schneider - Associate Professor, University of Florida

 

WC 9: Education Outreach Program Delivery - Regulators & Trainers

45 members

Bill Miller (Retired) - Grading Inspector III, New York State Dept. of Ag & Markets

Anita MacMullan - FDA Branch Director, Contracts and Grants

 

WC 10: Certification

41 members

Joseph Corby - Executive Director, Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO)
Janet Williams - Training Officer, FDA/DHRD/ORAU
Stay in Touch!

Our general listserve reaches over 1,000 growers, industry members, regulatory agents, and educators in the United States and around the globe. Signing up for the listserve is the best way to stay in touch with the PSA. To sign up, please visit our website at http://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/ or use the link included at the bottom of this e-mail message

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, comments, or ideas.

 

Take care and stay warm - spring is just around the corner!

 

Gretchen & Betsy

Gretchen L. Wall, M.S.

Produce Safety Alliance Coordinator 

Elizabeth A. Bihn, Ph.D.

Produce Safety Alliance Director 

Cornell University - Dept. of Food Science

186 Stocking Hall

Ithaca, NY 14853

Phone:  607.255.6806

Email: glw53@cornell.edu

Hedrick Hall - NYSAES
630 W. North Street
Geneva, NY 14456
Phone: 315.787.2625