Pre-employment Food Safety Training West Liberty Foods

Terry L. Steinhart, Swine Field Specialist, Southeast area


Americans expect many things from their food supply.  They want variety, quality, nutritional value, and safe food at a reasonable cost.  To many consumers, safe food means that there will be no danger from hazards that could cause them illness or injury.  There is a great concern with food safety in the United States with the increasing number of food recalls.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) estimates that 76 million people get sick, more that 325,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die each year from food-borne illnesses associated with contaminated food.


In 2003 Iowa State University Meat Science Extension, Iowa State University Southeast Iowa Area Extension and West Liberty Foods, West Liberty, IA partnered together to develop and implement a Food Safety Training Program for employees working at West Liberty Foods’ ready to eat plants in Mount Pleasant, IA and Sigourney, IA.  In 2004 Iowa State University Meat Science Extension and Iowa State University Southeast Iowa Area Extension received a grant from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service National Integrated Food Safety Initiative to enhance and improve the Food Safety Training Program.  In 2007, when West Liberty foods opened their Tremonton, UT plant, the training program was expanded to include employees at that facility.


From April 7, 2003 to March 24, 2009 there have been 3,216 unduplicated people trained in the pre-employment food safety training program at West Liberty Foods in Mt. Pleasant. Seventy-five percent have been trained in English and 25 percent in Spanish.  The total number of classes taught is 239 with 51% in English and 49% in Spanish.

When asked to rate the session’s content, 84% of the participants said it was very good or excellent.  One comment was that the information was “very informative-eye opening about the germ world.”  Sixty-seven percent of the pre-employment students rated the instructor’s knowledge of the material as Excellent. One student commented that the instructors were “very personable.”  The pre-employment students rated the instructor’s ability to present the information as very good or excellent by 92% of the participants.  One student stated “I liked how the learning methods were varied and the activities were very fun.”


150 Iowa Pork Industry Center

Page last updated: April 28, 2009
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