Some farmers market vendors in Pennsylvania will be getting food safety training this summer courtesy of a new Penn State program.
The pilot program in select cities across the state is directed at small-scale food processors and farmers. It includes a three-hour session that covers key food safety concepts, such as safe processing and preparation methods, and guidance for managing food safety risks in the retail setting.
Catherine Cutter, a professor of food science and food safety Extension specialist, and Joshua Scheinberg, a doctoral student in food science, designed the program with another colleague after their research, published in 2013, showed that whole chickens sampled from farmers markets in Pennsylvania had higher percentages of Salmonella and Campylobacter than those at supermarkets.
Farmers markets have become increasingly prevalent in recent years and have expanded beyond just fresh produce to include higher-risk foods, such as poultry and meats, cheeses, sauces and other prepared foods.
“In 2010, when we started our research, the regulatory oversight of foods sold at farmers markets in Pennsylvania was just beginning, and we were concerned about how those high-risk foods were being produced and sold to the public,” Scheinberg said.
After their poultry study, Cutter and Scheinberg continued exploring food safety challenges at farmers markets and identified key areas of focus for future training programs using vendor and market manager surveys, focus groups, concealed observations and surveys of Pennsylvania public health inspectors.
They then worked with Martin Bucknavage, a senior food safety Extension associate, on their training program for vendors.
“After four years of research, I’m really excited to put our results to use, and we are hoping that this training program is another step forward to ensure the success and viability of farmers markets in Pennsylvania,” Scheinberg said.© Food Safety News