FSMA: Penn State extension service wants to hear from feed sector

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Feed producers input is needed to help design an extension program's outreach efforts under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Pennsylvania State University is in the early stages of designing new education programing aimed at industry including feed mills and feed manufacturers. It has released a series of surveys designed to gather feedback from Pennsylvania-based feed manufacturers, producer farmers and food processors.

One goal of the anonymous surveys is to identify areas where medium and smaller producers in the different categories have questions or need additional training and outreach in relation to FSMA, said Cathy Cutter, professor of food science and food safety extension specialist with Penn State. They are gathering responses up until March 15.

Information from the surveys will be used to design educational programs on the regulation, she said. Those outreach efforts are anticipated to start in the spring.

“The animal feed regulation is already in effect for the largest producers and we have timelines that we’re trying to meet for our small and medium operations.

“We have several hundred feed mills in Pennsylvania that are going to be impacted by this regulation in a year or two,” she told FeedNavigator.

Compliance for current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs) for some feed producers started in 2016, but it is set to roll out at different intervals for companies of different sizes as are compliance dates for preventive controls. Some facilities also are exempt from certain requirements – for example, processors who work with human food safety standards, like brewers, may not need to add additional preventive controls to offer a by-product for animal feed.

However, facilities that need to adapt to the new safety regulations will have to complete several steps like doing a hazard analysis, establishing preventive controls and creating a recall plan.

FSMA ‘needs assessment’

One area where producers have already indicated the need for additional information is in what types of producers are exempt from the regulation, said Cutter. The extension team has already established a series of videos to address that concern, with the animal feed video forthcoming.

However, survey results are expected to allow for a more complete look at other areas of potential concern, she said.

“This is more of a needs assessment from a research standpoint,” she said. “What do our stakeholders know? What don’t they know? [And] what do they need?”

Additionally, extension educators involved in FSMA work are currently waiting for some of their own training on the animal feed rule, she said. Once they are certified, then they will be able to help feed producers in Pennsylvania prepare to complete their own food safety programs.    

The survey asks Pennsylvania-based feed producers their preferred method to learn about FSMA and its components - whether that is through email, mail, hands-on workshops, online courses, videos or webinars.

It also asks producers the sources they are already using to gather information on animal feed safety regulations and FSMA. And it asks industry members would prefer to have required FSMA training offered through the extension office, a trade association, or the state or federal departments of agriculture.

The university also wants to know what work processors may have already done, like establishing whether a feed mill already has an animal food safety plan in place, and what topics are most concerning to them.

“Inspectors are not going in right now and regulating the feed mills so that gives us an opportunity to help them figure out what they need to know, or if they are eligible for exemption from some part of the regulation,” said Cutter. 

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