The mission of the North Central Region Center for Food Safety Modernization Act Training is to teach farmers and producers ways they can prevent food borne illnesses while growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables. Contributed photo
The mission of the North Central Region Center for Food Safety Modernization Act Training is to teach farmers and producers ways they can prevent food borne illnesses while growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables. Contributed photo

North Central Region Center for Food Safety Modernization Act Training– one year in the books

With one year under its belt, the North Central Region Center for Food Safety Modernization Act Training (NCR FSMA) has made steady progress.

The mission of the organization is to connect educators with farmers and producers to teach them ways they can prevent food borne illnesses while growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables. The organization wants to take proactive approach to food borne illnesses, rather than a reactive approach.

The Food Safety Modernization Act came about as a result of the food borne illnesses that were prevalent in 2010-2011. The law required that regional centers be established throughout the United States. Iowa State University applied and was selected to be the headquarters for the North Central Region, which, in addition to Iowa, includes Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is funding the project.

Ellen Johnsen, NCR FSMA project coordinator, said the first year of the program was spent talking to farmers and conducting needs assessments. The needs assessments asked farmers such things as how much they knew about testing water quality and whether or not they would easily be able to access educational videos on the internet. This would impact how the information is distributed to farmers throughout the state.ncr-fsma_class-training

“It is going great,” said Angela Shaw, NCR FSMA project director. “We are on schedule for almost all the objectives. We had a delay with the needs assessment distribution but now are back on track.”

The organization will spend its second year developing teaching tools and training individuals to serve as trainers in their respective states to teach others.

University or university extension staff who have been working in food safety in their respective states have been chosen to serve as state leads. Johnsen said because these individuals have connections to local growers/producers, they are the ideal group of people to collect feedback, ensure that new training materials meet the needs of local growers/producers, and identify people who should be certified to train others.

“Growers have to go through certain training to meet the requirements of the law,” Johnsen explained.

Many of the ways the organization has been connecting with farmers thus far has been through state leads, extension partners, at conferences, word-of-mouth and the organization’s website, Shaw said.

“They need help and are excited about our resource information we are developing,” Shaw said about the response the organization has been getting from farmers and producers.

To find out more about the NCR FSMA, visit the organization’s website, https://ncrfsma.org, email NCRFSMA@iastate.edu, or find them on Facebook, @NCRFSMA.

CONTACTS:

Angela Shaw, project director, NCR FSMA, 515-294-0868, angelaml@iastate.edu

Ellen Johnsen, program coordinator, NCR FSMA, 515-294-6773, johnsene@iastate.edu

Whitney Sager, communications coordinator, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, 515-294-9166, wjsager@iastate.edu

  • NCR FSMA team members include:

    Angela Shaw - project director

    Linda Naeve - lead on extension coordination

    Cathy Strohbehn - lead on education coordination

    Joe Hannan - state lead for Iowa

    Arlene Enderton - evaluator

    Alice Topaloff - evaluator

    Bridget Perry - Ph.D. student working on the project

    Jacques Overdiep - master’s student working on the project

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