<ol> <li>Extend information about Fresh Produce Food Safety (FPFS) programs and principles defined in the FDA Guide to all commercial fresh fruit and vegetable (produce) handlers in the southeastern United States and to provide hands-on assistance with FPFS program implementation.
<li>Improve the safety of produce by implementing principles in FDA/USDA guide and utilizing currently available educational materials applicable to the Southeast.
<li>Produce supplemental training material and training modules directed at the growers and packers of fresh produce in the Southeast.
<li>Provide comprehensive training to trainers on the application and implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and standards applicable to the Southeastern situation.
<li>Assist the produce industry to provide supplier information on food safety.
<li>Collaborate with regulatory authorities on methods of keeping records and check lists on GAPs and GMPs and to extend this information to produce handlers. </ol>
Educational program to improve food safety of fruits and vegetables.
The procedures used will be based on a train-the-trainer approach through four 2-day training sessions. During these training sessions we will present curricula for training programs and provide the following materials to include extensive lecture notes, end user publications, slide sets (hard copy and Power Point), and in-depth lectures on the various subjects. We will vary this lecture mode with hands-on training with various instruments and a visit to packing facilities to observe `real world' situations. Dr. J. R. Rushing will lead these train-the-trainer sessions and has done extensive training on the subject with many industry groups. Thus he is very well versed in the educational procedures utilized for this training. Many other cooperators have done similar types of training on other subjects and have extensive experience and expertise with both train-the-trainer and hands-on, interactive training for adults. Instructional material (English and Spanish) from existing information from the Cornell group and other sources or new materials will be develop to include publications, slide sets, posters, bumper stickers. Additional training will focus on the appropriateness of keeping records of activities of each component of the GAPs program. Liaison with regulatory agencies will be necessary in order to confirm that record keeping practices are adequate. Ultimately, the correct implementation of GAPs programs will help the produce industry reduce the potential for causing illnesses and, in so doing, reduce their liability in the event illness. A primary target audience will be Extension Agents who have responsibilities to work with growers, packinghouses and/or chainstore operators. They will receive FPFS training as a group and subsequently will conduct industry training sessions in their home geographic region.
The PI and others have continued to train, inform, and develop materials for farmers and packers. Two workshops have been presented to a farmer's market in North MS with a total of 50 attendants. In addition, two presentations have been given to over 250 farmers at the Deep South Fruit and Vegetable Growers Meeting. An invited speaker from the California Department of Food and Agriculture spoke to the attendees at the meeting also. A one-day session was held with the Blueberry Growers from various associations (about 150 attendants), where some material and other ideas were given to them. This program has been in conjunction with Dr. John Braswell. Information and assistance on food security was incorporated at the last meeting. Information was also given to the Watermelon Growers Association at a meeting (about 50). In all, this program reached over 600 people. It was given to three specific groups, the blueberry growers and packers, watermelon growers, and the Choctaw Indian market. Work on specific procedures, record-keeping material, and others was also developed and given to the different groups.
Over 600 people have been reached (direct contact) and made aware of the new GAPs and GMPs guidelines, as well as the new food security requisites. Many have received training and will be assisted in developing their records and record-keeping procedures. This will enhance the market competitiveness and safety of our fresh produce.