FDA, USDA partner on food safety training

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration plans to support training initiatives for food industry stakeholders as the nation’s food safety system transitions to prevention-based measures under the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA).

In partnership with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the US Dept. of Agriculture, FDA will provide grants to fund a National Coordination Center (NCC) and four regional centers (RC) to provide training programs to owners and operators of farms, small food processors and small produce wholesale businesses.

The International Food Protection Training Institute received a grant of up to $600,000 over three years to establish the NCC, FDA said. The institute will lead coordination of curriculum development and delivery to those food businesses covered by the FSMA Section 209 mandate for implementation of FSMA and improving training of state, local, territorial and tribal food safety officials.

The NCC also will coordinate and support alternate training curricula through the RCs, which will identify any FSMA training needs to a specific audience or target businesses in their region.

“While members of the food industry are ultimately responsible for getting the training they need to comply with the FSMA rules, the FDA recognizes the importance of its role in facilitating that training,” FDA explained. “For the agency, this means joining with public and private partners in state, federal, tribal and international governments, industry, and academia in the development and delivery of training.”

FDA plans to issue guidance detailing core criteria, learning objectives and other elements the agency recommends for FSMA training programs. Additionally, FDA has funded three alliances — Produce Safety, Food Safety Preventive Controls and Sprout Safety — that are developing model, standardized curricula for the majority of food industry stakeholders affected by the FSMA rules. Acknowledging there is no one-size-fits-all program for FSMA training, the FDA will develop alternate training options for target audiences via cooperative agreements.

“FDA is on a path to working with public and private partners globally to ensure that training programs meet the needs of those who must comply with the new FSMA standards, no matter their size, nature or location,” the agency said. “It will take time and effort to make this work, and to get it right.”
 
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