Purpose: There are an estimated 189,000 total fruit and vegetable growers in the United States and although not all of them are subject to the Produce Safety Rule, all growers should have food safety knowledge since many are required by their buyers to implement food safety practices. To keep growers informed of the regulation and competitive in the marketplace, a qualified group of trainers is needed.
Methods: Thirty-seven prospective trainers, including produce growers, industry members, extension educators, and regulatory personnel, attended the two-day Train-the-Trainer pilot and were asked to complete an extensive evaluation that reviewed the curriculum’s content, supplemental resources, trainer pre-requisite knowledge, and the trainer certification process.
Results: Pilot attendees overwhelmingly agreed (27/29) that the two-day training format for trainers was appropriate in length while 86% (25/29) agreed that the provided teaching notes were sufficient. To most effectively cover the content, 73% (19/26) of the attendees plan to train as a team and 64% (14/22) plan to incorporate a second day of training for growers to focus on writing a farm food safety plan. Participants also identified the need for funding to conduct training, a readily available technical assistance network, and the need for prospective trainers to have a basic understanding of the proposed regulations prior to attending a Train-the-Trainer workshop.
Significance: Developing a cadre of competent trainers along with appropriate educational materials will help growers comply with the final regulations while reducing produce safety risks on the farm. This pilot evaluation process will also be conducted for the one-day grower pilot training in January 2015.