Charter

Purpose

The Produce International Partnership for Education and Outreach (PIP) will provide the international community with training and capacity building for the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) in a manner consistent with training that was developed and is being delivered domestically by the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA), through the further development and dissemination of outreach, education and technical materials and the establishment of training and technical assistance networks (TAN).

PIP is a partnership between the University of Maryland Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) and the PSA based at Cornell University. Ultimately, PIP will provide training that satisfies the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule requirement outlined in § 112.22(c) that stipulates ‘At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.’

Background

Under FSMA, foreign exporters to the U.S. will be held to the same food safety standards as domestic entities. In pursuit of this goal, Section 305 of FSMA directs the FDA to develop a plan to build the capacity of foreign governments with respect to food safety. This plan includes training and outreach to the international produce industry on the requirements of the PSR that are equivalent to PSA training that is offered to domestic audiences.

The PSA, created in 2010, evolved from the National Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Program which was established at Cornell University in 1999 through a series of competitive grants. The focus of the National GAPs Program was on domestic food safety training for the fresh produce industry, including growers, packers and farm workers. Through a series of subcontracts, formal collaborations with 25 Land-Grant Universities were established throughout the U.S. Many other states joined the collaboration informally over the years, expanding the partnership to almost every state.

JIFSAN was created in 1996 through a Cooperative Agreement with FDA for the purpose of conducting international training in food safety. The first JIFSAN GAP program was conducted in 1999. There were 43 GAP programs in 18 countries for almost 1,900 trainees up until 2017 when the curriculum was changed from JIFSAN GAP to the PSA program for the PSR. See the next section on the History of the JIFSAN GAP program. Like the PSA, JIFSAN’s success has been based on the ability to develop effective partnerships.

These two organizations (PSA and JIFSAN), under PIP, will work together to conduct outreach in a manner that is consistent with PSA’s domestic efforts, and considers cultural, political, religious, economic, technological, and language differences and needs. The outreach will include development of suitable training materials, delivery of training programs, and recruiting international food safety experts (FSEs) for the TAN.

Membership

Members of PIP include the two charter organizations, PSA and JIFSAN. Additional members are drawn from partner government agencies, academic and research institutions, international organizations, foreign food safety organizations, import and trade groups, and the fresh produce industry when appropriate. Leaders from within selected organizations are invited to participate in the PIP Steering Committee and Workgroups.

Charge

PIP is charged with working to ensure that culturally-, politically-, and technologically-sensitive outreach, education, and technical materials for the PSR are developed and made available to our international partners. This charge includes translating the existing PSA standardized Train the Trainer (TTT) curriculum to appropriate languages. The building of a trainer network and the formation of Collaborative Training Initiatives (CTI) in foreign countries will serve to amplify the impact of PIP training.

PIP is further charged with providing foreign farms and exporters, through training, with the local expertise needed to produce and handle safe fruits and vegetables in compliance with the requirements of the PSR. In addition, PIP will have an active role in collaborating in training programs delivered by other organizations such as international industry associations, universities, and the CTIs.

Maintaining knowledge of courses offered by other organizations will assist PIP in allocating resources for training. CTIs are expected to be established not only to conduct training, but also to be a source of technical assistance in countries/regions that ship a high volume of produce into the U. S. that is destined for the fresh market.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Partner Organizations

JIFSAN: JIFSAN’s role is to coordinate international education and outreach by leading activities under the PIP. In this role, it would lead the Steering Committee and have leading representation on the Training Delivery, Trainer Network, and Technical Assistance work groups. JIFSAN is responsible for coordinating international organizations interested in working with FDA to provide education, outreach, and training to farms that are covered by the Produce Safety Rule.

PSA: PSA’s role is to manage the standardized curriculum content used by JIFSAN and other organizations for training international audiences. In this position, PSA is the lead of the Training Content work group. Both PSA and JIFSAN will serve as co-leads for the Trainer Network and Technical Assistance workgroups. PSA will also collaborate with, and when necessary, provide assistance to, JIFSAN when coordinating international education and outreach efforts.

FDA-CFSAN: Representatives from the International Affairs Staff and the Division of Produce Safety will retain positions on the Steering Committee to ensure that the international implementation of the standardized curriculum is consistent with the intent of the FSMA Training mission.

Working Groups

Purpose: To assist with identifying and defining the tasks necessary to establish and implement the PIP. Recommendations from the WGs will be referred to the Steering Committee for further consideration before implementation.

Training Content (led by PSA)

Develop educational materials that address the PSR and articulate the changes that industry will need to make as a result of the Rule’s implementation. The standardized curriculum materials will not change course-to-course; however, the delivery of materials may be adjusted in a manner sensitive to varied cultural, lingual and technological needs and capacities. Supplemental GAP materials may also be developed to help ensure that key concepts (e.g. water, biological soils amendments of animal origin, etc.) are relayed in a manner that is relative to their training needs. The group will also coordinate translation efforts for training materials.

Training Delivery (led by JIFSAN)

International courses of the PSA standardized curriculum are expected to be offered predominately in the Train the Trainer (TTT) format. However, Grower Training (GT) programs may be offered in certain locations depending on factors such as educational needs, foreign government requests, etc. The past JIFSAN GAP course was 5 days. Within this time period, several options for the structure of PIP-PSR courses can be suggested, including, but not limited to:

 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Option A

PSA TTT course

PSA TTT course

Supplemental GAPs*

Farm Visit (OFRR)

Discussion/Adjourn + optional FSVP

Option B 

 Grower Training

PSA TTT course

Supplemental GAPs

Farm Visit (OFRR)

Discussion/Adjourn + optional FSVP

Option C

Grower Training

Supplemental GAPs*

Farm Visit (OFRR)

Discussion/Adjourn + optional FSVP

ˆthis option by special request

Option D

PSA TTT

PSA TTT

Travel to new location

PSA TTT

PSA TTT

Our experiences with one GT and five TTT programs in Latin America in 2017 led us to implement a 4-day training framework whereby Day 1 is dedicated to regulatory topics with presentations from local food safety officials and a half-day presentation by a FDA speaker on FSMA topics specific to the PSR. In a foreign setting the PSA-PSR course requires about two and one half day. Approximately a half day is budgeted for administrative activities such as the opening and closing sessions, pre- and post-exams and various evaluations. The one-day field trip once included in the traditional GAP program, as well as supplemental GAP presentations, have been omitted.

Trainer Network (co-led by PSA and JIFSAN)

Establish an international network of qualified Trainers, Lead Trainers, and Trainers of Trainers who are able to provide courses in participants’ native language (or regionally predominant language). JIFSAN has established Collaborative Training Initiatives in several countries to address food safety issues for specific foods. Partnerships with national or regional organizations enable the development of a network of trainers throughout Latin America and beyond that can disseminate the standardized curriculum. The CTI may link with farmers’ regional resources to help provide technical assistance for complying with the PSR.

Technical Assistance (co-led by PSA and JIFSAN)

Establish a network of experts who will address frequently asked questions and recruit Food Safety Research Team Experts (FSRTE) who voluntarily interact with a communications platform wherein stakeholders can share information and seek technical assistance as needed.

The PIP intends to leverage the FSPCA Community, which is the existing online database, to capture, track, and disseminate answers received from stakeholders. The PIP will manage the recruitment of international FSRTE. See the produce TAN scope of work for more information.

International FSRTE engagement from the Produce sector in the FSPCA Community will enable the Alliances to support the needs of instructors, course participants, and food safety plan developers across the private sector. Note: The Produce TAN is still in development. This section will be updated as additional details emerge.

Metrics and Evaluation

Establish a system for program evaluation and analysis of resulting data that are the basis for determining the effectiveness of training activities. Based upon these analyses, make recommendations to the Steering Committee regarding practices that may improve the outcome of training programs.

For program inquiries, please contact:

James Rushing, Program Manager | rushingj@umd.edu
Judy Cooper, Program Coordinator | jkcooper@umd.edu