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Indentifying Risk Factors and Developing Educational Strategies to Ameliorate Foodborne Diseases in Rural Mississippi

Njiti, Victor
Alcorn State University
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End date
This project aims at surveying, studying and developing a system for limited-resource farmers in rural Mississippi to implement GAPs/GMPs program that will enhance the safety of their produce.
  1. This project seeks to conduct a comprehensive survey of Good Agricultural and Good Management Practices (GAPs/GMPs) among limited-resources farmers in the Mississippi Delta and southwest Mississippi.
  2. The project aims at conducting a comprehensive analysis of the survey data to determine the educational needs for effective implementation of GAPs/GMPs by limited-resource farmers in the target regions.
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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has developed guidelines for the production and handling/packaging of fresh fruits and vegetables (ready-to-eat). These guidelines are called Good Agricultural (GAPs) and Management (Handling) Practices (GMPs). These guidelines were established to enhance the safety of our domestic and imported produce that gets to our consumers. The guide emphasizes prevention of microbial contamination and accountability at all levels of the agricultural and packing environments. It addresses areas where it is most likely that contamination of produce occurs: water (agricultural, processing and cooling), manure, animal feces, and municipal biosolids as fertilizers, worker health and hygiene and sanitary facilities, field sanitation, packing facility including pest control, transportation from the field and from the packinghouse. The guide also addresses training and traceability, and recommends the implementation of a monitoring and recordkeeping system. These guidelines have been addressed by many large producers. However, medium and small producers may not be aware or lack the resources to understand and implement GAPs/GMPs. This project aims at surveying, studying and developing a system for small farmers to implement a GAPs/GMPs program that will enhance the safety of their produce. The implementation of the system will be verified by testing and surveys/visits prior to and after the implementation.

APPROACH: Surveys will be conducted using culturally appropriate survey instruments. A questionnaire will be designed to gather information on food producers in the target counties that will help to reveal areas of weakness in the adoption of GAPs/GMPs. In addition, personal interviews and on-farm visits will be conducted to further analyze the existence and magnitude of the problem. A stratified random sample will be used for the survey in this study. Within each county in the project region, a random sample of at least 200 farmers will be surveyed. Farmers will be surveyed to measure attitudes and knowledge towards good agricultural practices and good management practices. Data will be collected by mailed questionnaire, telephone calls, and personal interviews. A cover letter will be included in each mailed questionnaire to explain the purpose of the study and assurance of confidentiality. The survey data will be analyzed using the SAS statistical program. Percentages, means, and correlations values will be calculated. Graphs will be generated using appropriate spread-sheet programs. Reports will be compiled and interpretations will be made with reference to target populations. Educational needs of the target audience will be determined and the next phase of the project will develop strategies and tools to conduct intervention.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
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Packaging Residues
Legislation and Regulations
Bacterial Pathogens