Progress 09/01/16 to 08/31/18
Target Audience:Beginning farmers, limited-resource producers, and food makers using organic, sustainable and conservation-oriented production systems were the target audience for our project. Activities conducted during the project included: 1) in-person pre- and post test and online quizzes of members of the target audience to assess their current level of knowledge of Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) and applicable Food Safety Modernization Acts (FSMA) Preventive Control Rule regulations for low-risk value-added food processing as defined by the FDA; 2) the development of a half-day online training tool; 3) curriculum development and pilot delivery of formal hands-on cGMP training; and 4) outreach efforts promoting the the program. The activities were marketed to the perceived target audiences throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Oklahoma. Prior to finalizing the specific subject matter for material development of the online education tools, the target audience was required to complete the FSMA Training Eligibility Form for Small-Scale Food Makers, also utilized to determine their classification as a low-risk value-added food processor as defined by the FDA as well as the population group acknowledging the training need. Population groups included: 69% Beginner Farmers or Ranchers, 25.64% U.S. Veteran or Active Duty Service Members, and 83.33% Limited Resource Farmers or Ranchers. The population group included 56.41% females and 41.03% males. Individuals identified within the population group as Our project advisory committee was instrumental in assisting with the identification of the target audience, as well as reviewing surveys to ensure the content developed meet the needs of the target audience. The project advisory committee included a diverse group of representative from academic institutions, cooperative extension, State Departments of Agriculture and industry agriculture professionals contributing an assortment of education, industry and regulatory knowledge. Every step possible was taken to ensure that participants were provided applicatory subject matter and a systematic approach to food safety requirements under the FSMA Preventive Controls Rule focusing on the required compliance scope, Current Good Manufacturing Practices, with a strong focus on employee training, proper use of monitoring equipment, sanitation practices, development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), recordkeeping requirements and process specific guidance. Changes/Problems:As stated in the previous annual report, the project was delayed due to a project partner experiencing serious health issues. This resulted in a delay in the curriculum development for the DE Modules and Food Safety Modernization Act Good Manufacturing Practices for Making Low-Risk Foods: A Guide for Small-Scale Farms and Food Businesses manual. CFSA recruited an internal staff member who specializes in food safety to assist in the development of the manual content, as well as the DE Module content and design allowing us to complete the project. The advisory committee did not provide as much feedback as we had anticipated, and delayed us for some time waiting on a response once the curriculum was developed and ready for review. Due to delays previously mentioned, it was difficult to finalize dates for pilot delivery of the workshops in North Carolina and Oklahoma, therefore we were not able to market the workshops for the amount time intended, resulting in low participation in both locations. We experienced several technical issues with launching the course on the recommended online delivery platform resulting in delays including: The discount code allowing students to access the course at no charge would not consistently work. Although tested prior to distribution of marketing materials to potential students, the links were not accessible at the time students started registering for the course causing a significant amount of frustration for the students. We found that some students were challenged technologically when attempting to register online for the DE Modules. Students were not consistently prompted to complete quizzes and course evaluations, therefore we do not have conclusive results from all students who completed the course. In reference to #3 above, we believe that part of the confusion was due to the evaluation also being named a 'quiz', which students were prompted to complete prior to closing out the course. The delivery platform only provided the means to upload 'quizzes' and not evaluations. This could potentially be remedied by choosing a platform that offers end of course evaluations or the option to upload an evaluation/survey link such as Survey Monkey. The technical issues referenced above resulted in some folks taking the DE Module prerequisite course, requiring a step-by-step visual tutorial on registering and completing the online portion, provided by instructors of the in-person workshop on the day of delivery. Creating an instructional video may assist with students overcoming the technical challenges. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?Our project developed and pilot tested food safety education and outreach program intended to provide training and professional development for operators of small-scale entrepreneurial food processing establishments serving the markets for local and regional foods with low-risk products. The customized food safety training and outreach program that was developed was provides practical, hands-on education on Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) and FSMA regulations for small-scale, diverse farm mixed-type facilities and other establishments producing low-risk value-added foods. The training and professional development program we developed includes: The FSMA Good Manufacturing Practices for Low Risk Foods Distance Education (DE) course. Four Add-On Modules to provide specific recommended GMPs of Low-Risk Food Processing, including blanching, making preserves/jams/jellies/fruit butters, dehydration, and freezing. The in-person FSMA Good Manufacturing Practices for Making Low-Risk Foods Workshop . The FMSA Good Manufacturing Practices for Making Low-Risk Foods: A Guide for Small-Scale Farms and Food Businesses manual, a delivery and take-home resource. The manual is also available to the public on CFSA's website for download in PDF format. During the initial planning stages, 58 small-scale food processors completed the FSMA Training Food Maker Questionnaire in order to identify the product specific cGMP training needs and knowledge level of the target audience. Results indicated that 16 participants were engaged in on-farm food processing activities and therefore may be considered a mixed-type facility by FDA definition. The results of the questionnaire identified 30 entities that were processing food, but did not specifically identify the value-added product as a low-risk food activity combination listed on the questionnaire, but as 'other'. Low risk activities commonly reported included baked goods (excluding cream filled pastries, breads, cookies) (24%), jams, jellies and preserves (28.3%), herb and spice products, including dried herbs/ herbal extracts (18.8%). Based on these results, the add-on modules were developed for blanching, preserves, dehydration, and freezing. Data collected also included the sourcing of raw materials, where 43.4% reported that products were locally sourced from a farm and 44.8% reported that the are not currently registered as an FDA facility. Pertaining to the preferred educational delivery method, 83% preferred face-to-face, 58.3% preferred online learning and 41.6% reported self-learning methods through reading materials. Based on these results, the initial concept of creating a combined delivery method to include an online DE Modules, an in-person GMP course and supplemental reading materials was supported. 55.5% reported that the length of time preferred is a full-day in-person workshop, therefore the workshops were designed for a six to seven hour duration. Online DE Modules: Out of 18 students who completed the GMP DE Module: 11 students completed the quiz without technical difficulty, but required two attempts to meet the minimum required score of 80% to successfully complete the course, where the 1st attempt average score was 61.51% and 2nd attempt average score was 88.45%, demonstrating a 43.80% increased knowledge. 18 participants averaged an 88.45% quiz score, with 100% meeting the minimum score requirement of 80%, including 11 that required a second attempt. 7 participants passed the quiz on the first attempt with an average score of 87.98%. Add-On Modules Preserves, Jams and Jellies DE Module - 6 participants (3 Quiz results - 54.17% averaged (62.5%, 50%, 50%) Blanching DE Module - 5 participants (1 Quiz result - 89.89%) Dehydration DE Module - 5 participants (0 Quiz results) Freezing DE Module - 4 participants (1 Quiz result 70%) In-Person GMP Workshop Increased Knowledge: Pre-Test: 79.8684 Average Post-Test: 89.4736 Average 12.03% Increased Knowledge Change in Behavior: Eighty-six percent of in-person course participants reported that they were very likely to implement changes to their manufacturing practices to comply with cGMPs. One hundred percent of in-person course participants indicated they would recommend the course to others. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?In recruiting participants for the course, we reached our target audience in North Carolina through online marketing and event calendars of CFSA and local extension offices where the courses were taught. The target audience in Oklahoma was recruited through the cooperative extension program at Oklahoma State University. Course participation data has been gathered, which included the following: A more user friendly online platform is needed for the target audience. The in-person course content was identified as too dense/detailed by some course participants. 86% of in-person course participants reported that they were very likely to implement changes to their manufacturing practices to comply with cGMPs. 100% of in-person course participants indicated they would recommend the course to others. As this was a pilot project, our plan was to test the effectiveness of the course materials and training program in communicating FSMA cGMP compliance information to small-scale entrepreneurial food processing establishments serving the markets for local and regional foods with low-risk products. As such, we did not anticipate further dissemination of the course and evaluation results, beyond the initial recruitment of course participants, as part of this project. Moreover, due to unavoidable project delays (see below) we were not able to complete the development and pilot testing of the curriculum until August, 2018, leaving very little time for activities to disseminate the products and outcomes during the grant period. However, we have presented information about the program and its results at two meetings organized by the Southern Center for Training, Education, Extension, Outreach and Technical Assistance to Enhance Produce Safety since August, 2018, including the NIFA directors meeting in Blacksburg, VA on August 21. Multiple extension educators who attended those meetings expressed interest in using the curriculum, and we look forward to opportunities to partner with those agencies to disseminate the materials, once the technical difficulties associated with participants' access to the online modules are resolved. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?
What was accomplished under these goals?
GOAL #1: The FSMA Good Manufacturing Practices for Low Risk Foods Distance Education (DE) course was developed during the project and delivered to 18 participants. Four Add-On Modules were developed to provide specific recommended GMPs of Low-Risk Food Processing to include blanching, preserves, dehydration, and freezing. GOAL #2: The FSMA Good Manufacturing Practices for Making Low-Risk Foods Course was developed and delivered to 22 participants. The FMSA Good Manufacturing Practices for Making Low-Risk Foods: A Guide for Small-Scale Farms and Food Businesses manual was developed, designed and printed (100 copies) and utilized as a delivery and take-home resource. The manual is also available to the public on CFSA's website (https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/good-manufacturing-practices-for-low-risk-foods-manual/) for download in PDF format. GOAL #3: The workshops were delivered in the following locations: August 6, 2018 - Greensboro, NC - 9 Participants August 8, 2018 - Stillwater, OK - 9 Participants August 16, 2018 - Mills River, NC - 4 Participants Our project developed and pilot tested food safety education and outreach program intended to address the needs of small-scale entrepreneurial food processing establishments serving the markets for local and regional foods with low-risk products. The customized food safety training and outreach program that was developed was intended to provide practical, hands-on education on Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) and FSMA regulations for small-scale, diverse farm mixed-type facilities and other establishments producing low-risk value-added foods. Value-added food processing for local and regional food markets is a key business activity for many beginning farmers, limited-resource producers, and food makers using organic, sustainable and conservation-oriented production systems. FDA has identified in its Preventive Controls Rules for Human Food and Animal Feed a long list of low-risk food/activity combinations (LRFACs) for which preventive controls are not required to minimize the risk of SAHCOD hazards. Small-scale entrepreneurial food processing establishments focused on local and regional food markets commonly limit their value-added production to LRFACs, and these establishments frequently are operated on-farm, out of a home kitchen, or from a shared-used kitchen facility. To address the needs of this audience, we (1) developed a series of online training modules on FSMA's cGMP requirements, and process-specific modules on four low-risk manufacturing processes; (2) develop eda one-day hands-on GMP based course for small and very small facilities, including farm mixed type facilities, focusing on risk reduction practices, including handouts and in-class exercises; and (3) piloted delivery of the online tool and in-person course with the target audience. The results of quizzes on the distance learning module on cGMPs, the pre- and post-tests from people who participated in the three in-person pilot workshops, and those participants' evaluations of the course, indicated a high level of effectiveness and satisfaction with the course materials, validating the usefulness of our proposed approach to create this curriculum that is customized to the needs of the target audience. We saw increases in participant knowledge of cGMPs, and indications that taking the course will contribute to understanding, compliance, and behavioral change on the part of this target audience. Because part of the learning takes place through online training, and because the in-person workshop is only one day long, we are confident that this training program will meaningfully engage and educate the target audience allowing small-scale entrepreneurial food processing establishments serving the markets for local and regional foods with low-risk products avoid the expense, time investment, and frustration they would otherwise experience participating in training programs focused on preventive controls. The in-person workshop created through this project was designed to offer hand-on exercises and demonstrations not currently offered in existing FDA approved Preventive Controls Courses. 11 students completed the cGMP distance learning module quiz without technical difficulty, but required two attempts to meet the minimum required score of 80% to successfully complete the course, where the 1st attempt average score was 61.51% and 2nd attempt average score was 88.45%, demonstrating a 43.80% increased knowledge. 18 participants averaged an 88.45% quiz score, with 100% meeting the minimum score requirement of 80%, including 11 that required a second attempt. 7 participants passed the quiz on the first attempt with an average score of 87.98%. In-person Pilot Workshop - Pre-Test: 79.87 Average, Post-Test: 89.47 Average 86% of in-person workshop participants reported that they were very likely to implement changes to their manufacturing practices to comply with cGMPs. 100% of in-person workshop participants indicated they would recommend the course to others.