This project proposes bringing experts from the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Agriculture Law Education Initiative, and the University of Maryland, College Park and Extension together to create specialized food safety curriculum tailored to three different types of farm-based food businesses: Community Supported
Agriculture, On-Farm Markets, and Agritourism. These materials will be presented at on-farm trainings (during winter 2017) which will maximize the ability of the presenters to provide operation-specific information and give Maryland farmers the opportunity to get questions answered for their particular operations. Following the trainings, the materials will be disseminated via the ALEI website and through recorded webinars. The goal is to equip farmers with the knowledge they need to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks, reduce health risks and thereby improve the quality of life of Maryland’s agricultural community.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Learning and implementing preventive food safety measures is a farmer’s best defense against being the source of a foodborne illness outbreak. However, it can be challenging for farmers to learn and apply food safety methodologies, because “one size fits all” food safety trainings do not account for the variations of different types of operations. Despite the varying risks associated with diverse operations, Maryland Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) trainings are only offered in two formats: basic and advanced. According to the 2015 University of Maryland Extension Eastern Shore Agricultural Needs Assessment, farmers in the 9 counties on Maryland’s eastern shore, ranked GAP and Good Handling Practice compliance as the top research and education need. This is clear evidence that Maryland farmers desire more food safety education than is currently being offered. Further, as an educator at these trainings, I can attest that farmers often ask the following question in varying forms: “I have an (XYZ) operation. How does the general standard apply to my farm?” This is clear anecdotal evidence that farmers desire more narrowly tailored trainings with demonstrative examples that can be more easily understood and applied to their type of operation. Trainings to teach farmers about the far reaching new requirements of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule will begin in early 2017 and will be administered separately from the Maryland GAP trainings, adding another layer of complexity for Maryland farmers. Lastly, teaching farmers what to do in the event of food safety emergency is vital. Therefore, creating operation specific curriculum that includes some recall planning, Maryland GAP and FSMA standards will provide farmers with the information they need to adopt and implement practices to prevent and effectively react to foodborne illness outbreaks.
The goal of the project is to improve the quality of life for Maryland’s farmers by reducing the likelihood of foodborne illness outbreaks associated with agriculture. The project will create operation-specific food safety training materials that will be presented to Maryland farmers in the best possible setting: on the farm itself. An operation’s best defense against being the cause of a foodborne illness outbreak is having both a food safety plan customized to their operation and having staff trained and prepared to implement the plan’s procedures. This advance preparation is also a legal requirement for farmers subject to FSMA.
To accomplish this goal, the project will bring Maryland’s food safety experts onto the farm to provide farmers and their staff with food safety education customized for their specific operation (Community Supported Agriculture, On-Farm Market, or Agritourism). Having the experts on-site will allow farm operators and their staff to get answers tailored to their specific operations. The objective is to determine if providing Maryland farmers with customized on-farm food safety trainings will improve food safety planning and compliance with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, and reduce the likelihood of foodborne illness outbreaks.
Paul Goeringer and Sarah Everhart worked the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the University of Maryland, College Park and University of Maryland Extension (collectively the “collaborators”) to review existing food safety training materials and pull from those materials the standards and/or methodologies that can used in the operation-specific curriculum materials. Completed during February- September 2017.
Everhart worked with collaborators and partner farms to schedule trainings and form training agendas. Completed during May-June 2017.
Everhart, in consultation with Michael Pappas, performed research to supplement existing food safety training materials to ensure that the curriculum contains the most up-to-date standards, recommendations and methodologies to plan for and address food safety risks. Completed during March-September 2017.
Everhart created draft curriculum materials for the operation specific food safety risk and recall readiness portions of the trainings and worked with collaborators on their training materials. Completed during February-September 2017.
Everhart made visits to the partnering farmers, discussed topics to be covered at the trainings and inquired as to how the trainings can be enhanced by using demonstrative examples from the host farm sites. Completed during September, 2017.
Pappas reviewed the curriculum materials and offered suggestions to Everhart. Completed during October, 2017.
Everhart and Goeringer created evaluations for distribution following the trainings and webinars to gauge the quality and effectiveness of the trainings. Completed during November, 2017. Work SARE Webinar Evaluation SARE Workshop Evaluation
Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary
Everhart and Goeringer worked with University of Maryland communication staff and collaborators, to promote and market the food safety trainings, including but not limited to printed, email and social media marketing. Completed during September-December 2017. Ad for Workshops
To date, we have done no educational programming. Programming will take place in January of 2018 with 3 workshops planned. A webinar series has been scheduled for Feb. 2018.
Currently, 2 Extension publications have been published that will be utilized in this trainings. A Guide to Drafting A Model Recall Plan for Maryland Produce Growers and Model Recall Plan both by Sarah Everhart and Ashley Ellixson. Guide to Drafting Model Recall Plan and Model Recall Plan
To date no farmers have reported any gaining knowledge, attitude, skills, and/or awareness. Should have results here in the next report.
To date not project outcomes can be reported.
To date nothing can be done to assess the project.