Expanding the Technical Food Safety Capacity of Small and Very Small Meat Processors in Kansas through Food Safety Program Development Workshops

Progress report for GNC22-353

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2022: $14,594.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Kansas State University
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Jessie Vipham
Kansas State University
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Project Information


The increased interest in the consumption of local products, including meat and meat products, has allowed small and very small (SVS) meat processors to gain more visibility in the market. SVS facilities represent >90% of the federally-inspected establishments in the United States. In Kansas, the animal slaughter and meat processing sectors, have an output of $10.9 billion. While some of the SVS facilities in Kansas have been operating for several years, others just recently were established or are expanding their operations. This represents an opportunity and need for standardized education and training approaches for SVS personnel. There are several requirements that meat processing facilities have to comply with especially in regard to food safety programs, this includes a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan. Successful food safety programs require commitment and engagement from all personnel of a processing facility and an understanding of their role in food safety. There is a large proportion of the workforce in SVS facilities that are of Latino origin, and thus, providing education and training in their primary language reduces language barriers and increases successful knowledge-transfer. The objective of this project is to provide SVS meat processors with spaces for learning and developing effective and compliant food safety programs, including HACCP plan, microbial testing programs, and other food safety requirements. We will hold food safety lectures in English and Spanish, workshops for designing/adapting HACCP plans, and for adequate practices in microbial testing programs. Additionally, we will carry out initial on-site readiness assessment for SVS plants, as well as final audit-like evaluation for the correct implementation of food safety practices after the lecture/workshops. Written assessments will be collected before and after each lecture and workshop. All the data obtained and results generated will be shared through extension briefs, peer-reviewed manuscripts and poster presentations at a conference. We anticipate that increasing the knowledge and skills of SVS facilities in terms of food safety and regulatory requirements will increase their engagement and commitment to following adequate food safety practices. Moreover, we expect that providing educational programs in Spanish to the SVS workforce will ease the transfer of knowledge to Spanish speakers and increase their sense of belonging and commitment to food safety. Through the improvement of food safety programs, SVS will be supporting the reduction of food insecurity, the incidence of foodborne outbreaks, increasing their market potential and visibility for customers.

Project Objectives:

Learning outcomes

  • Meat processors will learn about the differences among regulatory requirements (state and federal), HACCP requirements and third-party audits schemes.
  • Meat processors will learn how to develop/adapt, implement and manage their own HACCP plans.
  • Meat processors will understand how to reassess and modify their food safety programs when necessary due to modifications in their products or processes, or due to requirements.
  • Meat processors will learn how to effectively design and implement verification and validation programs.
  • Meat processors will be guided through microbial testing programs, including appropriate sample collection practices, transport, and processing of samples.

Action outcomes

  • Initial on-site assessments of the SVS processing plants’ readiness for compliance with regulatory requirements and implementation of the HACCP plan.
  • A food safety lecture series about food safety requirements.
  • A hands-on workshop to a) Carry out preliminary tasks for their HACCP plan, and b) Develop/adapt individual HACCP programs specific to their processing facility.
  • A laboratory workshop to conduct appropriate and effective microbial sample collection and testing procedures.
  • Follow-up on-site visit to the SVS meat processors to evaluate the correct implementation of the food safety programs and HACCP plans developed during the workshops.

Condition outcomes

  • Increased compliance with state and federal requirements and potential status for third-party certifications.
  • Increased engagement and sense of belonging by receiving training and education in their primary language (for English/Spanish-speakers).
  • Broadening SVS processors’ opportunities to access bigger markets (e.g. interstate) that require specific programs and certifications.
  • Strengthened relationship between Kansas State University and SVS processors.


Materials and methods:

A survey was distributed among small meat processors in Kansas to understand their needs around food safety. Most of the respondents expressed their need around good manufacturing practices and the HACCP plan. Therefore a tool was developed to evaluate the effectiveness of their current food safety programs. The tool is divided in four parts: I) Documents and procedures (12 questions), II) Sanitation (9 questions), III) HACCP (12 questions) or GMP (17 questions) either will appear depending on their inspection status, and IV) Records and recordkeeping (9 questions). Each section contains questions that target regulatory requirements (State or Federal) and asks processors to answer as close to reality as possible. Each question is scored depending on its relevance to food safety, after each question the score is shown and feedback on the why and how is provided. Several links to online resources are provided with the feedback to allow processors to read more in-depth about a specific topic or to have templates or models to develop their own food safety programs. The self-assessment tool was developed using Qualtrics XM and it is configured so that processors may complete the assessment within a month providing enough time to do a comprehensive assessment. At the end of the survey, results will be available to download as a pdf so that processors may keep the results and track their improvements. They will be able to conduct the assessments as many times as they want; therefore, they may detect improvements or negative trends in their food safety systems.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

The self-assessment tool is in the validation steps and will be available online through the K-State Outreach and Extension website, it will also be distributed via email and social media through the Kansas Meat Processors Association.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

We have developed a self-assessment online tool called "Self-Assessment for Food Safety Excellence (SAFE)" that will allow small meat processors to evaluate their current food safety programs and provide resources with information on how to develop documentation and/or implement food safety practices that are compliant with state or federal requirements. The tool can be completed over a month to allow processors to work carefully and obtain accurate feedback on their programs. Additionally, they will receive a summary of their evaluation that can be downloaded and used to work on areas that need improvement. The assessment is divided into four parts: I) Documents and procedures, II) Sanitation, III) HACCP or GMP (depending on their inspection status), and IV) Records and recordkeeping. Each section contains questions geared towards understanding the practices within their processing facility and determine whether they are compliant with the regulations. After each question, feedback is provided on WHY is important and HOW to comply with the requirement. By improving food safety programs, small meat processors will be able to reach new and bigger markets, reduce food contamination, reduce food insecurity in their communities, and increase their profits. The self-assessment tool will also be available in Spanish (work in progress) so that Spanish-speaker workers may also have access to the feedback in their native language and thus reduce the language barrier.

<img src="Screenshot-2024-02-29-133204.png" alt="Does your establishment have written documents for any of the following prerequisite programs? (select all that apply)
Production Equipment
Control of Raw Materials from Suppliers
Environmental Monitoring
Chemical control
Pest control
Allergen Management Program
Glass control
Receiveing, Storage, and Distribution
Product Tracing and Recall
None"  <img src="Screenshot-2024-02-29-133312.png" alt="You’ve received 15 out of 75 possible pts
Prerequisite programs help build the foundation of an effective HACCP system in the following ways:
They help establish the necessary conditions to consistently produce safe food over time 
They ensure that the appropriate environment and operating conditions are provided to protect food products.
They support decision-making towards defining significant hazards in your HACCP plan.
Some prerequisite programs are also regulatory requirements (e.g. SSOPs). It is important to have these documents in written form, as this allows for more effective communications with employees and regulatory groups.
Prerequisite programs are commonly developed from Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) outlined in 9 CFR and 21 CFR.
You can find more information on prerequisite programs here and here.
Prerequisite programs are specific to your facility, you can find resources to develop your prerequisite programs here and here."><img src="Untitled-9.png" alt="Here is a summary of your results:
Part I - Documents and Procedures: you obtained 65 pts
Part II - Sanitation: you obtained 70 pts
Part III - HACCP: you obtained 170 pts
Part IV - Records and Recordkeeping: you obtained 30 pts
 Your overall result is 335
Oh no! 
It looks like your overall food safety program is struggling to comply with all the regulatory requirements, please read below to learn the areas in which your facility can work to achieve your food safety goals
Your facility needs to revise the compliance and completeness of the documentation and written procedures that you have and/or will need to develop some of these documents to comply with regulatory requirements. You can go back to the resources provided for guidance on how to develop said documents.
Your facility is doing a good job on your sanitation practices, although you might want to check on the adequate implementation of the sanitation procedures, adequacy of your sanitation protocols, or other activity that may reduce the effectiveness of your sanitation plan.
Your facility is doing a great job on your HACCP plan, this is a key program to produce safe food.
Your facility is struggling to record and/or maintain data that is relevant for food safety. You may want to revise your recordkeeping system and develop the procedures needed to adequately record data and maintain it according to the requirements. "

Knowledge Gained:

Through surveys distributed among small meat processors, we gained an understanding of the main food safety challenges that they face and were able to develop a tool that can help them evaluate their current food safety programs and provide resources to improve or learn more about the importance of food safety practices and how to comply with state or federal regulatory requirements. As part of the needs identified, the meat science group at K-State submitted a grant proposal aimed towards expanding the Kansas State Meat Laboratory to improve outreach efforts and enhance educational programs. This would allow K-State to host hands-on training for small meat processors including implementation of food safety practices within a meat facility. Additionally, outreach efforts beyond Kansas have been put in motion to provide technical assistance to small meat processors including resources toward implementation of the USDA FSIS revised Appendix A & B Guidelines.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.