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Food Safety Risk Assessment and Intervention for Virginia Small Farmers

Investigators
Pao, Steven
Institutions
Virginia State University
Start date
2013
End date
2017
Objective
The project is comprised of two practical objectives to evaluate selected food safety risks and intervention approaches in areas that are important to Virginias small producers. One of the objectives is developed in response to the growing small ruminant production and Internet business. We will assess the microbiological quality of goat and/or sheep meat in winter and summer seasons, comparing the quality of meat purchased online to meat purchased locally.

The second objective of this project will explore the use of post-harvest washing and sanitizing techniques for edamame, assessing the effectiveness of various techniques and their outcomes. It will be conducted in autumn (harvesting season) along with soybean breeding research activities to fill postharvest knowledge gaps in soybean production and utilization. New information on food safety as it relates to production and processing on a small scale will be generated from this study. For the small ruminant study, data will be individually summarized and/or compared among groups before being reported at national scientific meetings and local extension meetings. A minimum of one research paper will be published in suitable refereed journals. For the edamame portion of this study, data will be individually summarized and/or compared among groups before being reported at national scientific meetings and local extension meetings to disseminate valuable data to small farmers. A minimum of one research paper will be published in suitable refereed journals.

Measurable outcomes from the overall study will also include 1) involving at least one undergraduate and one graduate student at our experiment station under VSUs Work-Study Program, 2) presenting research finding at relevant stakeholder meetings at local, regional, or national conferences, and 3) providing scientific data in support of outreach activities conducted by extension specialists in the U.S.

More information
Non-Technical Summary:
The demand for meat from goats has increased in some markets of the Southeastern USA, which has led to new marketing opportunities for the small farmer/rancher. Although data on the total sale value of their goat meat via the Internet is not available, the increase in the available vendors online and the steady growth of e-commerce both suggest that the current Internet goat market can be significant to small farmers and producers. This new system of selling is blooming, yet food safety information related to products in this emerging goat meat market is not available. Fresh edamame has been produced and marketed on a small scale in Virginia. Recent reports show that edamame appears to be a viable alternative crop for Virginia with yields similar to snap beans for the mid-Atlantic United States. One initial handling step of postharvest is washing to remove dirt and debris from in-shell edamame. The washing technique for edamame has been briefly described in a recent article. However, scientific data on the effectiveness of washing for microbial quality and safety of edamame are still lacking. The project will evaluate selected food safety risks and intervention approaches in areas that are important to Virginias small producers. Specific information gaps in food safety for supporting the growth of small ruminant meat production and vegetable soybean packing operations have been identified for scientific research in this study. Data generated from this study will help to bring new information/knowledge to the small ruminants and fresh produce industries to address existing questions and potential problems in food safety and microbiology.

Approach:
We will examine and compare the microbial contamination of online- and locally-procured raw small ruminant meat products. The study will show potential microbial hazards and risks associated with frozen raw meat at retail markets. Data from this study can serve as a foundation for process and sanitation improvement at small farms and can be used as baseline information for new producers to establish their production and/or packing operations. The research activities will benefit VSU in fulfilling the mission of a Land-grant University in conducting critical agricultural research and providing practical food safety information to stakeholders. It will fill a vital gap in food safety knowledge on the quickly-expanding Internet food markets. We also will develop and validate produce sanitizing techniques using environmentally friendly sanitizers (such as ozone, chlorine dioxide, etc.) for small-scale edamame packing and food service operations. Research findings will help to identify sources of microbial contaminants in edamame, along with means to control them. Results on washing techniques and shelf-life extension will be presented at local and/or national meetings and published in a refereed journal for stakeholders.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
VAX-PAO2013
Accession number
233027
Categories
Parasites
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game