Ariz. leafy greens board gets food safety grant
The Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee recently was awarded a $125,000 federal grant to expand and enhance distribution of its acclaimed Food Safety Training Program through videos and train-the-trainer workshops.
“Our members are constantly training field workers on food handling safety practices, so anything we can do to ease their burden and create greater accessibility is eagerly utilized,” said Vicki-Lynne Scott, technical subcommittee chairperson and board member of the Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee.
The Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Program provides uniform multicultural food safety training guidelines. It drives home the importance of field safety training while recognizing the very different cultural attributes of Hispanic workers, which comprise the majority of those in the field. The program is designed for harvest supervisors and foremen, food safety coordinators, production supervisors, quality control personnel, extension educators and/or industry consultants who conduct food safety training at leafy greens farms, and is specifically targeted at those who handle leafy greens before, during or after harvest.
The program is continually enhanced with new components that expand accessibility and promote ease of use. Last year, the committee added large-format posters that can be used in quick “tailgate trainings” to augment the more comprehensive program.
The USDA grant will be used to create videos of the existing modules and training sessions, providing one more tool for trainers to use. The videos, like other components of the program, can be used in a classroom setting, played on a monitor or on a mobile device in the field.
The grant was one of 56 specialty crop block grants awarded to states totaling approximately $55 million to fund various initiatives that strengthen and expand economic opportunities for local and regional producers. The entire list of funded projects can be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5100734.
The Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Program was recognized in 2011 as one of five “best new food safety solution” finalists in the United Fresh 2011 New Product Award Competition. The program is widely utilized throughout the industry, and other markets have used it as a template in creating their own food safety programs.
Arizona Leafy Greens is a volunteer consortium of produce growers shippers who have put in place protective controls to ensure the integrity of leafy greens products produced in Arizona.
Arizona's leafy greens industry provides 75 percent of the leafy greens produce consumed in the United States and Canada from November through March.
The program is administered by the Arizona Department of Agriculture and closely monitored by USDA-licensed inspectors. More information is at www.arizonaleafygreens.org.
Arizona Leafy Greens receives USDA grant to expand program
Funds to enhance accessibility of food safety training