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Engineering for Food Safety and Quality

Investigators
Worobo, Randy
Institutions
New York Agricultural Experiment Station
Start date
2010
End date
2015
Objective
The overall goal of this project is to enhance the safety, quality, and nutrition of fresh and processed foods utilizing non-thermal methods.

This is an integrated project that includes extension programs and applied research to develop science-based safety guidelines for direct application in production practices for food processors in NY and the rest of the US. Specifically we will:

  1. Address the highest food safety needs of food processors by: assessing specific knowledge gaps and training needs; designing appropriate extension and outreach programs to address those needs; evaluating the effectiveness of the programs and implement best practices.
  2. Develop, test and implement an alternative non-thermal processing methods that still meet the minimum safety requirements set forth by FDA or USDA.
  3. Determine the effect of the alternative processing methods on the quality and nutritional content of the various food applications.
  4. Expand and validate science-based guidelines for safe production of non-thermally processed foods that can be used by food safety extension experts and regulators for the development of schedule processes for regulatory compliance.
As a result of this 5-year project, we expect the following outcomes:
  • Better understanding of the food safety educational and training needs of processors and farmers in the Northeast, including best methods for content delivery.
  • New educational materials and programs tailored to fill the knowledge gap in food safety and regulations currently faced by food processors.
  • A dedicated section for safe food manufacture in Cornell's Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship (NECFE) website with all the educational materials developed.
  • Updated guidelines for safe manufacture of foods that do not receive a final pasteurization step (cold filled).
  • Updated and expanded guidelines for food safety extension experts and regulators to develop and verify adequacy of schedule processes for fresh or non-thermally processed foods.
  • Training of a large number of people (> 200) associated with fresh or non-thermal food production in the Northeast including processors, regulators and extension educators.
  • Assessment of the impact of the proposed integrated food safety extension and research activities on implementation of best practices to eliminate and minimize hazards, implement appropriate formulation and process controls, and enhance safety of fresh and processed foods manufactured using non-thermal processes. compliance.
More information
Non-Technical Summary:
This project aims to enhance the safety of high risk fresh and processed foods being manufactured by food processors, with a focus on the Northeast region. An integrated approach will be used that includes extension programs and applied research to develop science-based safety guidelines for direct application of validated non-thermal processing methods in production practices. Our focus is the Northeast as the food production practices and type of products are similar across the region, and Cornell University currently provides food safety evaluations and services to processors in New York and other Northeastern states. We will address the food safety needs of high risk foods by: assessing specific knowledge gaps and training needs; designing appropriate extension and outreach programs to address those needs; evaluating the effectiveness of the programs and implement best practices.

Approach:
Initial meetings with various sectors of the food industry will be conducted to determine specific areas of concern regarding the safety of fresh and processed foods and evident educational needs of processors, inspectors and extension personnel. Survey topics will be developed to design appropriate surveys. Results will be used to target and prioritize specific food safety content and methods to reach audiences and deliver the educational materials. To evaluate the effectiveness of the extension programs, we will conduct additional surveys as a longitudinal study to assess knowledge gain, changes in behavior and incorporation of safety factors. Methods for content delivery will include workshops, demonstrations and presentations; printed materials (fact sheets, guides, working forms); electronic materials that will incorporate video/audio clips, pictures, diagrams and so forth. Educational materials will be first developed based on current knowledge and practices, and will be periodically updated when new information is available. Best practices for increasing food safety of manufactured foods will be determined based on final outcomes of the extension and applied research components of this project, and any other new information available from other resources. Dissemination of the findings will be done via presentations, press releases, extension articles and through a dedicated website. For the applied research component we will study the safety of fresh and minimally processed foods. We will evaluate non-thermal processing methods for a variety of high safety risk foods, and develop specific guidelines to determine critical controls and validate the processes with pertinent pathogen challenge studies. The work will be conducted during the five year performance period.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
NYG-623827
Accession number
226841
Categories
Education and Training
Sanitation and Quality Standards
Parasites
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants