Fresh Produce Food Safety Training Program and Curriculum Development for the Southeast

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  • 1 NC State Univ., Horticultural Science, Raleigh, NC 27695-7609
  • | 2 NC State Univ., Horticultural Science, Raleigh, NC 27685-7609
  • | 3 NC State Univ., Food Science, Raleigh, NC 27895-7624

This project directly addresses national food safety “priority issues”. Project design incorporates food safety and food chain security as focal points of educational efforts, then initiates practical, producer-level research, teaching, and extension whereby food handling and safety issues are addressed in a systems context. The overall Project goals are (1) to deliver information about Fresh Produce Food Safety (“FPFS”) programs and principles defined in the FDA Guide to fresh fruit and vegetable handlers in the Southeastern United States, (2) to provide hands-on individual state assistance with FPFS program implementation, and (3) to determine the influence of packing line procedures on the survival of foodborne pathogens. Part of the education envisioned under the new grant is introducing the concepts of recall and traceback. These concepts, proposed for incorporation into a new Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) act being discussed for adoption, possibly in 2006, essentially allows for the traceback of food to its point of origin. Osborne and others published a new protocol last month as “Model Recall Program for the Fresh Produce Industry” and want to help growers stay ahead of the curve on these issues. As a consequence of this project, the region's commercial fresh fruit and vegetable handlers will acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to establish effective GAPs programs. Developing new GAPs programs to fit the specific needs of the packing and chain store operations in the Southeastern United States can significantly reduce the possibility of illness originating from Southeastern fresh fruit and vegetables. Delivering such programs will serve as a valuable training tool for fresh produce industries nationwide.

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