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Integrated Needs Assessment and National Training Program to Enhance Seafood and Aquaculture Product Safety


The overall goal of this project will be to enhance the safety of seafood and aquaculture products in the USA by addressing persistent and emerging seafood safety issues with targeted training and outreach strategies. Research results will direct the outreach initiative. To accomplish this task specific research and outreach protocol must be designed and implemented.
Research Objectives: <OL> <LI> Develop and conduct a needs assessment survey of the seafood industry for knowledge of HACCP principles and the application as they apply to seafood hazards and barriers to implementation of effective seafood safety control programs. <LI>Develop and conduct a needs assessment survey for active Seafood HACCP Alliance trainers to determine current knowledge gaps and identify what resources are needed to enhance training efforts. <LI>Develop and conduct a needs assessment survey of both federal and state inspectors to learn the primary HACCP implementation issues encountered during routine inspections. <LI>Conduct an analysis of FDA inspection data to determine specific HACCP implementation deficiencies and identify appropriate training strategies to improve compliance. </ol> Outreach Objectives: All outreach efforts will be directed by the needs assessment and compliance data analysis described in the research objectives. <ol> <LI>Revise Alliance training materials to reflect needs assessment, compliance analysis and new FDA regulatory guidance on effective HACCP controls for seafood safety hazards. <LI> Develop problem targeted and applied training pods (ATP's) designed to address persistent HACCP knowledge gaps and provide solutions to specific HACCP implementation problems. <LI>Conduct a series of seafood HACCP Update sessions to explain changes in regulatory guidance and new training materials for the seafood industry and inspectors. <LI>Develop and deliver a series Train-the-Trainer programs to ensure that current and new instructors integrate the new training materials and regulatory guidance into seafood HACCP training programs.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Seafood consumption continues to contribute to the largest number of annual illness outbreaks in the USA. Additional and targeted training is necessary to help resolve the persistent and emerging seafood safety problems. The persistent problems include certain microbial pathogens and natural toxins, while the emerging issues involve the nation's growing dependence on aquaculture products, most of which originate outside the USA. Public concerns have culminated in administrative and regulatory plans that will introduce new requirements and expectations that present additional challenges for commercial response. An integrated response is proposed by an experienced team of research and extension expertise that is founded on the proven and recognized training network established by the Seafood HACCP Alliance (SHA). Research Components will begin with needs assessments of the targeted commercial audiences, state and federal inspection programs and the existing SHA trainers. The research is intended to provide direction in revising and supplementing existing training materials. The research results will direct the outreach components. The related Outreach/Extension Components will produce new training materials, a national series of Seafood HACCP Update sessions, and a group of problem targeted `Applied Training Pods' for use in classroom, internet and webinar training programs for both commercial and regulatory audiences. Likewise, the Outreach Components will include a major effort to provide new Train-the-Trainer programs to update and reorient all existing trainers and initiate a cadre of new trainers for service in both domestic and international settings. The training protocols will remain consistent with the standardized program established by the SHA in cooperation with the Association of Food and Drug Official (AFDO). All training materials, training tools (ATP's and webinars), courses, instructors and Update sessions will be subject to immediate and long-term evaluations for impact and advice for improvements. This cooperative approach will involve every state in the nation and every cooperative extension program in the respective state universities. It will address every seafood safety issue relative to wild harvested and farmed products produced in or imported into the USA.

<P>APPROACH: Research Methods; 1)A survey of HACCP-trained personnel in seafood companies will be administered using both the traditional mail protocols and enhanced by an online survey clearinghouse, Zoomerang„·, as an optional response tool. A sequential mailed survey will be administered based on the Dillman Total Design Method. The knowledge content area means will be ranked to identify the major need areas. In addition, the item means within each knowledge content area will be ranked to identify more specific outreach needs, particularly for the smaller facilities. 2) A survey of trained, active instructors will be administered using the online survey clearinghouse, Zoomerang„·. Instructor contact information can easily be obtained using AFDO course records. Only active, supervisory instructors will be surveyed. 3) A survey of FDA and state seafood inspectors will be administered using the online survey clearinghouse, Zoomerang„· in an effort to determine their perceptions of seafood HACCP implementation deficiencies and/or proficiencies, to assess whether they feel that have the training necessary to do their job, and to evaluate their knowledge base concerning pathogenic microorganisms and appropriate control measures. State inspectors will also be targeted as the FDA contracts HACCP inspections of seafood processors with many state health regulatory agencies. The survey will target a minimum of one state and its state agency per each of the six regional AFDO affiliates. 4)Final evaluation, using the results of the surveys of seafood processors, seafood HACCP training instructors, and the FDA seafood inspectors will be compared to history of inspection results to identify areas of common problems and guide targeted outreach efforts to improve compliance. In addition, appropriate training enhancements can be developed. Outreach Objectives will include development of new training manual, revise HACCP internet course, develop new applied training PODS, conduct a series of Seafood HACCP Update session and deliver a series of Train-the-Trainer programs.

Otwell, Walter
University of Florida
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