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U.S. groups form food safety alliance

A public-private partnership will provide growers and packers with safety know-how


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Cornell University have announced a partnership that aims to provide produce growers and packagers with on-farm food safety knowledge.

The new Produce Safety Alliance is a three-year, US$1.15 million partnership funded by the FDA and USDA.

It will be housed at Cornell University in New York State through a grant from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

Cornell’s national Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) program has been a leader in the development of materials on GAPs and in its dissemination of food safety knowledge to the agricultural community.

The Alliance’s work will include:

• Developing a standardized, but multi-formatted and multi-lingual education program on GAPs and co-management;

• Creating an information bank of up-to-date scientific and technical information related to on-farm and packinghouse produce safety, environmental co-management, and eventually the FDA’s proposed produce safety rule;

• Launching a website to make the alliance’s work and information readily accessible;

• Establishing a network of educational collaborators;

• Conducting an assessment of existing educational outreach tools to identify knowledge gaps and to provide for continuous updating; and

• Working with partners on the steering committee and others to develop and deliver train-the-trainer materials and sessions.

In 2011, the FDA is expected to issue a proposed rule on the safe production, harvesting, and packing of produce.

The alliance aims to give produce growers and packers training and educational materials and opportunities to learn about current risk-and science-based best food safety practices, and future regulatory requirements.

The alliance will have representatives from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), land grant universities, growers and shippers, produce trade organizations, and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, joining FDA, AMS, and Cornell officials on its steering committee.