Project: Research project

Project Details


NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: While foodborne illness outbreaks attributed to meat and poultry have declined since Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) was implemented, the industry must continue to make improvements. There were still at least 1,229 reported outbreaks affecting 38,577 people from 1990-2003. This may be particularly important in small and very small plants. While FSIS sets appropriate food safety standards and conducts inspections and verification to make sure the standards are met, industry must design establishments, purchase the right equipment, and develop, implement and monitor sanitation plans that are effective. In addition, small and very small establishments must develop and implement HACCP plans; monitor, verify and validate these plans; and make changes as warranted by new equipment, new processes, or new directives and regulations. This higher level of responsibility requires not only the initial HACCP training required by the regulation, but also and ongoing commitment to training and updating knowledge in highly sophisticated and science based food safety subject matter. However, there are limited training resources for the meat and poultry industry in the Northeast. This project will develop a mechanism for providing more up-to-date, effective, training opportunities to meat and poultry processors, targeted to meet their needs. The project will produce a more knowledgeable work force in the meat and poultry industry and will result in fewer regulatory actions carried out in regional plants.

OBJECTIVES: Research objectives include: 1)Conduct a knowledge and needs assessment survey of the Northeast Meat and Poultry industry to assess the knowledge of industry personnel of HACCP principles including hazard analysis, verification and validation procedures, and pathogen testing programs; where industry personnel are getting educational information; training programs available and used by NE industry; the need for greater access to training; and the feasibility/acceptability of on-line or correspondence courses as a way to meet the needs of the industry. 2)Conduct program evaluation to assess effectiveness of training and written materials; how the training plan meets the needs of industry; how training resources meet the needs of trainers; and effectiveness of web site. Extension objectives include: 1.Establish a Northeast network and coordinating group to facilitate provision of HACCP/Food Safety/Sanitation training and information to the meat and poultry industry. 2.Develop a coordinated NE meat and poultry training and information plan. 3.Develop a set of training materials to include core curriculum (matching guidelines from International HACCP Alliance); updated HACCP models; modules addressing specific concerns such as Listeria testing, E. coli, BSE, salmonella, food defense, sanitation, GMPs, allergens, etc. These materials will be organized so that they can be updated regularly as new directives, regulations or policies are developed. 4.Develop a web site to be used for communication with regional industry; providing information about training opportunities in the region, provide resources (password protected) for trainers, coordinators/contacts. 5.Develop and offer train-the-trainer course to encourage expansion of course options for the region.

APPROACH: This project will include research and extension components. The extension education component will reflect the results of the survey research component. In addition, the education program will be evaluated for effectiveness and whether it meets the needs identified by industry in the survey. This evaluation component is included as the second research objective. Because this project will be implemented in nine states, it is imperative that representatives from each state support the project with a cooperation agreement. These partnerships will be with the USDA-identified small plant coordinators from each state. Where states have their own inspection programs, state regulators are included. One of the first activities of the project will be to identify a representative group whose role is to coordinate efforts to provide l training to the processors in this region. The survey of Northeast Meat and Poultry industry will assess knowledge of HACCP principles including hazard analysis, verification and validation procedures, and pathogen testing programs; sources of educational information; training programs available and used by the industry; and if there is a need for more training programs and greater access to training opportunities. A contracted survey/evaluation specialist will be responsible for the survey design, development and statistical analysis. After the survey is completed, we will develop and pilot test a set of training materials meeting needs identified by survey results. These materials will be organized so that they can be updated regularly as new directives, regulations or policies are developed. Materials will be pilot tested. The materials will be revised as needed and printed. In addition, materials will be made available by CD rom and on the project web site. Once training materials are developed, project staff will offer a train-the-trainer course to encourage expansion of course options for the region. A web developer will design the project web site where industry personnel can go for "one-stop-shopping" for information about training opportunities, information, resources, and on-line training opportunities that might be available on other sites. Up-to-date and valid links will be included whenever possible. Once developed, the site will include training materials and resources that will be available to trainers via a pass-protected system. In addition, materials that are presented at training programs will be made available to the industry if appropriate. An evaluation will be conducted to assess the effectiveness of training and written materials; how the training plan meets the needs of industry; how training resources meet the needs of trainers; and the effectiveness of web site. This evaluation will be conducted both at the completion of training (what are intended behavior changes), and four months after the deliverables (training programs, web site) are conducted or in place.

PROGRESS: 2009/09 TO 2010/09

OUTPUTS: The research goal has been met. Knowledge/needs assessment surveys were completed for both industry and trainers. A national meeting was held to further inform the results of the surveys. This meeting included focus group sessions for representatives of industry, the academic/training community and both state and federal regulators of the meat and poultry industry. The data from these assessment activities was compiled in a white paper, "Preparing Small and Very Small Meat and Poultry Establishments for the Future of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point): A Cooperative Approach". Early in this program year, Ms. Hirsch reported about this publication to FSIS Small Plant Coordinators and Contacts during a January conference call. Interest was generated regarding the materials we are developing and the train-the-trainer course that was to take place in June. Call participants were alerted to the presence of the document on the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) website. ( ry-small-meat-processors/april-28-may-1-meeting-2008/White%20Paper8.p df/view) In this program year, the information generated from these research activities was used to develop a set of training materials and conduct a train-the-trainer program aimed at increasing the cadre of meat and poultry HACCP trainers in the New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania (the Northeast). The train-the-trainer program was held June 11-14 in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, a site that was accessible to the potential target audience, university, extension and other HACCP and/or meat and poultry trainers in the Northeast. The program was marketed directly to the target audience with both an email brochure and mailed brochure in order to reach all potential participants. The training agenda for the two and one-half day course included: a review of HACCP regulations and the regulatory agencies responsible for implementing them; components of a HACCP plan; food safety hazards and controls; prerequisite programs; how to organize a break-out session; HACCP plan development and implementation; teaching the adult learner; and organizing a HACCP training program. The program conforms to International HACCP Alliance training protocols. A workbook for participants, HACCP Step by Step, A HACCP Plan Workbook, was drafted and reviewed by the project team. The workbook was used to complement curricular materials for the train-the-trainer program which also included a notebook with course materials, also drafted and reviewed by the project team. Finally this program year, we initiated the development of a Northeast network and coordinating group to facilitate provision of HACCP/Food Safety/Sanitation training and information to the meat and poultry industry. Two conference calls were held: the first with prospective industry members, and the second with representatives from industry, the academic/training community and federal and state regulators. The next step will be to have an organizational conference call to give structure to the coordinating group. PARTICIPANTS: Project individuals include Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH, RD, Project Director reported on the White Paper at the FSIS Small Plant coordinators and contacts conference call, organized conference calls for project team communication, managed the project budget, sub-contractual arrangements, and reporting. Catherine N. Cutter, Ph.D., is the Project Director of the subcontract with the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Cutter managed the sub-contract activities and budget. Both Ms. Hirsch and Dr. Cutter together took the lead in planning the train-the-trainer program. Dr. Cutter and PSU were responsible for meeting site arrangements and program evaluation. Ms. Hirsch coordinated the curriculum development, including the drafting of the HACCP workbook. Ms. Hirsch organized the conference calls for development of the HACCP education coordinating group. Dr. Cutter participated in recruiting regulatory personnel and others to participate in the development of the coordinating group. Wanda Hamilton, program assistant, has been responsible for administrative assistance and assisting with conference call arrangements and some planning arrangements for the train-the-trainer program. All of the state cooperators, who represent Cooperative Extension or state regulatory agencies in New England, New York, and New Jersey have participated in conference calls, curriculum review and marketing the train-the-trainer program. Some of the cooperators (Lori Pivarnik, URI, Todd Pritchard, UVM, and Catherine Violette, UNH) participated in the train-the trainer program as trainers or as workshop attendees. New partners have been added including Jason Bolton, University of Maine and Londa VanderWal, University of Vermont. Nineteen persons participated in the training program. TARGET AUDIENCES: The target audience for the train-the-trainer program included university, extension, training consultants, and other HACCP training professionals who work with the food industry, particularly meat and poultry processors. We focused on these personnel working and training in the six New England states, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, the geographic area targeted for this project. The goal is to increase the cadre of trained meat and poultry HACCP trainers to provide accessible training options for industry personnel in the region. Because we wanted the Northeast group to facilitate provision of HACCP/Food Safety/Sanitation training to be representative of all stakeholders, we targeted industry, academia and regulators when identifying potential participants. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

IMPACT: 2009/09 TO 2010/09

As a result of the train-the-trainer program, there are now 19 additional personnel trained to conduct meat and poultry HACCP courses in the Northeast. The group represented all nine states in the target area. Presently only two states are regularly providing HACCP training for the meat and poultry industry. This will significantly increase the potential for programming that meets the needs of industry in geographical proximity. Participants included graduate students, Extension faculty, consultants and pilot plant/food center employees. A program evaluation was distributed. A Likert scale of 1(low) to 7 (high) was used to respond to 11 questions. Thirteen of 19 participants responded that the overall course quality was 6.4. When asked to what extent participants believed the course increased their knowledge of the subject matter, responses ranged from 4 to 7, with a mean of 6.0. Comments indicated that information reinforced what they already knew; interacting with other participants enhanced the learning experience; discussions helped to illustrate how information could be applied in a teaching situation. In addition, respondents indicated that they have a greater understanding of the significance of the subject matter (5.8) and that the materials would improve their ability to solve problems in the subject area (6.0). When asked if they were likely to use the material in the future, they responded (6.3) in the very high range. A follow-up survey will assess how the material was used and if participants are actually considering and/or conducting more meat and poultry HACCP courses. In addition, several of the participants have agreed to be members of the regional planning effort to develop the coordinating group to facilitate provision of HACCP/Food Safety/Sanitation training and information to the meat and poultry industry. At the present time we have five representatives from industry, two regulators (one federal, one state), and eight representatives of the academic/training community. This group represents (and therefore will be able to consider the needs of) a variety of stakeholders when developing a HACCP food safety education program for meat and poultry processors in the Northeast.

Effective start/end date9/15/068/31/11


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: $263,429.00


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