Helping food businesses comply with food safety regulations
Regulations implementing the federal Food Safety Modernization Act have introduced new challenges for producers and processors, especially small and medium-sized businesses with limited infrastructure and resources.
UMass Food Science Extension is helping businesses meet these new challenges. Amanda Kinchla, a UMass Extension food safety and product development specialist, provides technical support to producers and food businesses that need to adopt new food safety practices. The support includes offering a variety of food safety trainings required by regulation. One such training, Better Process Control School - Acidified Program, is a two-day class for people interested in commercially producing shelf-stable, acidified foods. Another is Preventive Controls for Human Food, a 20-hour food safety management certification training that the FDA requires for processors, which she offers in collaboration with other New England Extension specialists. In 2017, this program reached approximately 200 participants. UMass Extension also offers short courses focused on food safety considerations for product development. In 2017, these courses attracted 80 participants.
Additionally, UMass hosted a produce safety training specifically aimed at sharing best management practices for post-harvest produce facilities. Amanda has presented a series of technical talks at agricultural conferences about food safety, and provides one-on-one technical assistance to food businesses. She also leads a research group that works with graduates and undergraduates on applied research related to food safety and product development.
By providing these trainings and technical support to food and farm businesses, UMass Food Science Extension is helping to protect consumer health and safety, while assisting farms and food entrepreneurs in finding solutions appropriately scaled to their businesses to keep them both sustainable and compliant.