Growing consumer demand for local, distinctive foods has increased local food market opportunities in WV. However, recent policies such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and increased produce-related foodborne illness outbreaks has raised anxiety/concerns among consumers and producers alike about the safety of directly-marketed produce.
We provided food safety education to help producers stay well-positioned in the local food movement and meet buyers' expectations of safe foods, in a cost-effective manner. One-hundred-and-twenty two produce direct-marketers attended a 3-module short-course covering food safety risks, recommended GAPs/GHPs, on-farm food safety assessment, economics of food safety implementation, food safety planning, on-farm mock audits, record-keeping and voluntary certification, and effectively communicating food safety compliance. Six months post-training, 122 producers have reported implementing at least two food safety recommendations, 63 producers reported implementing a food safety plan with appropriate documentation, 36 have expanded sales and profitability, and 10 have successfullly passed their GAPs audits.