Food Safety Training Program Launches
I’m very pleased to announce the launch of our new farm food safety training program; which started earlier this week with four workshops in Yuma, AZ on the topic of Cleaning and Sanitizing Harvest Equipment. Nearly 100 food safety staff and farm supervisors were able to partake. The program is called LGMA Tech and it operates in partnership with our sister program in Arizona to address important training requirements for workers throughout the leafy greens farming community.
There are six courses in the new LGMA Tech Training Program:
- Cleaning and Sanitizing Harvest Equipment
- Employee Hygiene and Hand-Washing
- Conducting Environmental Assessments
- Managing Personnel and Harvesting Operations
- Sampling and Testing Procedures
- Train the Trainer
The courses are targeted at food safety professionals who supervise workers for LGMA members or for the harvest companies and labor contractors utilized by LGMA members.
LGMA Tech courses are offered throughout the different leafy greens farming regions in California and Arizona. They are offered in both English and Spanish. Each session accommodates about 20 people.
The entire program is designed under the concept of ‘train-the-trainer’ which means that courses teach supervisors how to train their workers. In each course participants will receive a trainer’s handbook and corresponding educational materials for the workers that they go on to train.
This kind of teaching is important because proper training of workers is critical to producing safe food. In fact, it’s so critical that, as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, FDA is requiring that food safety training for produce suppliers include instruction on techniques specific to teaching adults.
The initial classes are being taught by Sergio Nieto Montenegro, Ph.D. an expert in produce food safety training who also developed the Arizona LGMA training program. We are equally happy to report that a team of additional instructors is currently being trained to assist Sergio with these courses so the program can be expanded.
Each workshop will begin by showing a new video produced jointly by the California LGMA and STOP Foodborne Illness. The video uses real stories of people sickened in foodborne illness outbreaks to demonstrate why proper food safety practices are so important.
A major portion of the funding to develop the new training program was supplied by a California Specialty Crop Block Grant awarded to the LGMA last year. We hope the new program will help us overcome one of the biggest challenges we face in produce food safety training, which is standardizing training throughout the industry.
We believe this new effort will make food safety training in the leafy greens industry more consistent and uniform because supervisors will now be trained through the same program, by similarly-trained and educated instructors who use the same teaching materials and curriculum. Eventually, we hope to have the LGMA Tech program accredited through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).