The Produce International Partnership for Education and Outreach (PIP) is a joint effort between the University of Maryland Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN), and the Produce Safety Alliance based at Cornell University (PSA), to provide food safety training to the international community that satisfies the training requirements in the Produce Safety Rule (PSR).
Specifically, PIP provides training that meets the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR) 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.' Currently the curriculum developed by the PSA is the only one recognized as adequate for this purpose.
The Standards for Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption, known as the Produce Safety Rule, is mandated by the US-FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). It sets science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of certain fruits and vegetables. Under FSMA, produce that is produced in foreign locations, imported, and sold in the U.S. is held to the same food safety standards as produce grown, harvested, and sold domestically.
To support the international community, PIP is tasked with developing and coordinating the dissemination of food safety training and outreach that prepares foreign produce growers and handlers to meet the food safety requirements set forth by the PSR. This includes working to ensure that the educational materials available are culturally sensitive and technologically sound. PIP is responsible for translating the existing PSA Train the Trainer (TTT) curriculum and offering training to international audiences. Additionally, PIP is building a network of qualified trainers and Collaborative Training Initiatives (CTI) that leverage food safety partners located in countries that export produce to the United States. PIP has an active role in collaborating with international industry associations, universities, government organizations, and others in the development and delivery of training programs that address the local and regional needs of foreign farms in complying with the PSR.
PIP training programs can be offered in several formats which are described in the Charter. However, based on experiences with the first six offerings, PIP has adopted the approach of scheduling four days for each training program. The first day is dedicated to obtaining feedback from representatives of the host country about their own food safety activities and their major concerns for compliance with the PSR. This is followed by a half-day session led by a US-FDA representative who provides a detailed review of the aspects of FSMA relevant to the produce industry. These presentations lead us into the formal PSA Train-the-Trainer curriculum on the second and third days. The fourth day allows time to wrap up the curriculum and to assist program participants with understanding the process of applying to become PSA Lead Trainers.
The first PSR compliance date for certain sprout operations has already past and the first major compliance date for large covered produce farm began January 26, 2018. As additional compliance dates come to pass, PIP will remain a part of the FDA’s ongoing effort to ensure that regulators and the regulated community are prepared to meet the new food safety standards set forth in the PSR.
The Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition was established between the FDA and the University of Maryland in April 1996. The Institute supports the missions of the FDA and the University through the creation of partnerships to promote research, education, and outreach programs.
The Produce Safety Alliance is a collaboration between Cornell University, the US-FDA, and USDA to provide the produce industry and associated groups with training and educational opportunities related to current best practices, guidance, and regulatory requirements.