; Bridging the GAPs – Lessons Learned from the WV Food Safety Training Initiative | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Bridging the GAPs – Lessons Learned from the WV Food Safety Training Initiative

Doolarie Singh-Knights, Karen Cox, Jodi Richmond, Brandy Brabham, and Alexandria Straight


Growing demand for local, distinctive foods has increased local food market opportunities in WV. However, policies such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and produce-related foodborne illness outbreaks have raised concerns among consumers and producers alike about the safety of directly-marketed produce. For producers to stay well-positioned in the local food movement, they must understand state and federal food safety regulations, buyers’ demands, and consumers’ expectations, and comply with these requirements in a cost-effective manner. Failure of local food-systems stakeholders to be proactive in food safety education will result in increased vulnerability to food safety liability, loss of lucrative markets because of non-compliance, or cause producers to exit the industry because of anxiety over the issue.

The WV Food Safety Training Initiative represents an inter-agency and cross-disciplinary partnership, to deliver a 'one-stop-shop' for food-safety training and producer assistance, necessary to grow the local food economy. Since 2016, we have trained 250 producers in two critical areas: best management practices in food safety compliance; and integrating these recommendations into a holistic farm food-safety plan, designed for whole-farm planning and comprehensive risk-mitigation, and 3rd party audits.

This presentation discusses four main aspects of the ‘WV Food Safety Training Initiative’: priority areas addressed and risk-management tools recommended; key partnerships that made this project a success; notable project outcomes and impacts; and challenges producers faced in food safety compliance. This information can be used by other agricultural service providers to help their respective target audiences adopt a holistic food safety risk management paradigm.