AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University has received a grant to continue hosting the North Central Region Center for FSMA Training, Extension and Technical assistance to help fruit and vegetable growers and processors comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) across the 12-state region.
The nearly $800,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture continues to fund Iowa State University Extension and Outreach faculty and staff’s efforts to support the infrastructure of the national food safety program by communicating and coordinating information within the North Central Region related to the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and Preventive Control Rule.
The grant will allow ISU Extension and Outreach specialists, in partnership with educators, regulators, farmers and processors in all 12 states, to expand the regional communication network, support the development of regional education materials designed to help farmers and processors comply with the rule, provide professional development to educators working with industry, and provide direct technical assistance to growers and processors in the North Central Region. The team will build on the current educational infrastructure and existing relationships with the other centers (Northeast, Southern, Western, Local Food, and Tribal), Food and Drug Administration, USDA and state Departments of Agriculture to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness and lay the groundwork for a safer food supply.
“The new funding allows us to expand on the great work that Angela Shaw and her team started three years ago,” said Joe Hannan, commercial horticulture specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “The FSMA Produce Safety Rule and Preventive Control Rule are now both in full effect and there has been a lot of education going on across the county. However, we are still in the early phase of implementing FSMA and creating a safer food supply. We have regular guidance and clarity of the rule that comes from the FDA. Farmers still need on-farm help getting compliant. There are a lot of people and organizations involved and we all need to have a consistent message when working with farmers and processors to help them be compliant with the law.”
Hannan and Shaw, associate professor and extension specialist in food safety at Iowa State, are leading education efforts for the North Central Region Center for FSMA Training, Extension and Technical Assistance, which is based at Iowa State. Iowa State was awarded a $1.1 million grant in 2016 to set up the center.
“With the new funding comes quite a few changes,” Hannan said. “This is not business as usual for us. We are adding an annual professional development conference for educators and regulators, topic specific webinars and a new look and feel for our website and newsletter. We also have an integrated relationship with the other regional centers to review supplemental materials and new curriculum and evaluate progress across the country.”
FSMA was signed into law in 2011 and aims to strengthen the U.S.’s food safety system by preventing foodborne outbreaks before they occur. The produce safety rule, one of seven major rules under FSMA, requires fruit and vegetable growers to meet science-based minimum standards for safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding fruits and vegetables for human consumption.
This work is supported by the Food Safety Outreach Program [grant no. 2018-70020-28877] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.