Working with the Youth Through a Food Safety Program

Jerry Weiss, Swine Field Specialist, Northwest Area


It is estimated that Iowa 's 15,000 4-H'ers enrolled in livestock projects produce over 17 million pounds of meat each year. While this is small in comparison to the total meat produced in Iowa , it is still a significant quantity of food. Many of these youth will become the future livestock producers. Because of this the 4-H Food Safety and Quality Assurance program was developed. Through this program 4-H'ers and their parents are taught to realize they are not alone in the process of producing food. There are many partners in the food supply system. However, they are the first step in this food chain.


It is now a prerequisite that each 4-H'er showing a meat animal at the Iowa State Fair be trained in the Food Safety Quality Assurance program FSQA. Almost every county 4-H program has also adopted this requirement. I have been involved in the development of this program. I as well as others developed teaching aids to be used by staff to teach this program. I was part of a teaching team that presented these materials through the ICN program held February 2005 to ISU Staff, County Youth Coordinator's and Volunteer's. This downlink was held in each of the 99 counties. These teaching materials were then to be used to train the youth throughout the state through the FSQA program. This will be an ongoing program to be used each year with new teaching materials to be added as we go. In the counties that I work with as a Swine Field Specialist in Northwest Iowa , I held 12 FSQA training/qualifying sessions for youth. These sessions were attended by 629 youth. Many of parents of these youth also attended the sessions. This is in addition to the youth who chose to qualify over the web. We then qualified these youth through the National Pork Board. In addition to the face-to-face contact with these 629 youth, I also had a teachable time with many of them as I discussed the carcass data of their hogs at their county fair. The youth watched as we scanned the hogs at weigh-in time and I then had the opportunity to explain the carcass data with them at a later date. This process allows me face-to-face contact with the county pork producers members because they are usually running the swine judging show at the county fair. This also puts me in contact with the parents of these youth, most of who are pork producers.


It is because of this FSQA program, the PQA Level III program and the SWAP program all of which are taught and conducted by myself and other Extension staff that has caused the increased consumer demand each year for pork here in the U.S. and also in the export market. The consumer knows they are eating quality pork.

August 30, 2005
108 -- Iowa Pork Industry Center

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