USDA Grants Establish Regional Centers for Food Safety Training, Outreach and Technical Assistance

Linda HarrisWestern Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Center to Enhance Food Safety 

The University of California, Davis will be collaborating with 13 western states and two territories in the newly established Western Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Center to Enhance Food Safety at Oregon State University. The center is a partnership with land-grant universities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Guam as well as American Samoa Community College. 

The initiative was announced October 14, 2015 by the federal government as part of an effort to help growers and processors of fruits, vegetables and nuts comply with requirements established under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The center is one of four new regional collaborative centers across the country. 

The 1.2 million in funding will be used by the center to develop a cadre of trainers to teach others how to conduct FSMA compliant workshops for small and midsized farms, beginning farmers, small-scale food processors and wholesale produce vendors. Although standardized curriculum are already available the funding will allow the development of materials that are commodity, scale or regionally appropriate. 

The center will leverage existing food safety training programs within Cooperative Extension and UC Davis, state and local governments, industry organizations and commodity groups and community-based organizations. 

Linda J. Harris, Department of Food Science and Technology is the lead contact for the states of Arizona and California but Trevor Suslow and several additional faculty at UC Davis and the University of Arizona helped pull together materials for the grant application and will actively participate in the center.