HACCP Short-course for Non-Meat Industries

March 26th, 2014

April 17th-19th, 2014
Iowa State University
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Department of Animal Science
Early registration ends April 3 and final registration ends April 11
What: This three day Basic HACCP training is designed for people in the food industry desiring to understand and be trained in the HACCP system for manufacturing safe food. This is also for individuals who are starting to develop or implement HACCP plans and those who want to review the concepts and applications of HACCP or desire an updated understanding of the system.

Who: Participants include food processing managers and technicians, quality control, assurance, sanitation.  Participants also include growers wanting to further process products and restaurants wanting to bottle or package a recipe.  This course will be presented in a manner that will serve participants who ARE or WANT to produce and process food.  The emphasis will be placed on non-meat commodity groups with an emphasis on FDA regulations.



This course will address food safety concerns for industries such as: canning, frozen meals, spices/bulk ingredients, cereals/pastas, fresh produce, dairy ingredients, bakery/snack foods, and food service (variance) along with an Advanced HACCP group.

Why: FDA and USDA require workers in several segments of the food industry to be trained in HACCP. This course is accredited by the International HACCP Alliance and will meet the specifications established by these federal agencies.

You Get: This course is accredited by the HACCP Alliance as meeting the required standards for content and training for introductory HACCP. Upon successful completion of the course, the attendee will be registered with the International HACCP Alliance and recognized as completing a HACCP training program. In addition, within small working groups, the attendees will actually develop a HACCP plan and present it to the class for discussion and critique.


Registration is first come basis with early registration fee of $325.


Thursday, April 17: Registration: 12 p.m.; Workshop: 1 p.m.–6 p.m.
Friday, April 18: Continental Breakfast: 7:30 a.m.; Workshop: 8 a.m.–5:45 p.m.
Saturday, April 19: HACCP Exam: 8 a.m.; Workshop: 8:45 a.m.–11:30 a.m


This course is sponsored by the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals.

Food Safety Plans, Workshops

Update: Cantaloupe growers sentenced

February 1st, 2014

A federal judge in Denver sentenced Eric and Ryan Jensen each to six months of home detention and five years probation for selling listeria contaminated cantaloupe in 2011 that killed 33 and sickened 147 people in 28 states.


The brothers, who owned and operated Jensen Farms, Granada, Colo., each pleaded guilty last year to six federal misdemeanors of introducing an adulterated food into interstate commerce.


They could have faced up to six years in prison and each been fined $1.5 million. “No fine is imposed because the defendants have no ability to pay a fine,” according to the sentencing order from Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty. However, the judge ordered each brother to pay restitution of $150,000 — $25,000 for each count. That money will go directly to victims, according to the U.S. Attorney in Denver. The Jensens argued the judge should not order restitution because they may be found liable for damages in civil cases filed by victims.


“Accordingly, the court should find that restitution should not be ordered in this case but left to civil actions already in progress,” the brothers’ probation request states.


The Jensens are the first growers to face criminal charges in such a case, but other growers could be in similar situations in the future, based on a comment from Spencer Morrison, the Food and Drug Administration’s acting special agent in charge of the agency’s criminal investigation.



Source: www.thepacker.com, 01/28/2014.


10 of the Biggest U.S. Outbreaks in 2013

January 2nd, 2014

Food Safety News has compiled their list of 10 of the biggest U.S. outbreaks in 2013.  These outbreaks are an opportunity for learning about the times when things go wrong.  It also helps you identify preventative strategies for your farm.  Be sure to visit their page for the story link for each point.

10. E. coli O157:H7 from Glass Onion chicken salads, 33 sick. Trader Joe’s customers in four states fell ill after eating one of two pre-made salad products from Glass Onion Catering: the Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken or the Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken. At least seven people were hospitalized, with two developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a kidney disease associated with severe E. coli infections.

9. Salmonella from Hacienda Don Villo in Channahon, IL, 35 sick. Health investigators traced 35 Salmonella illnesses back to this Mexican restaurant in Grundy County, but they could never pinpoint the exact food source. At least one person was hospitalized, and one employee was among those who tested positive for Salmonella.

8. E. coli O121 from frozen Farm Rich foods, 35 sick. Prompting a large recall of frozen mini pizza slices, cheeseburgers and quesadillas, this outbreak sickened predominantly minors across 19 states. Of those confirmed ill, 82 percent were 21 years of age or younger. Nine were hospitalized. The company recalled all products created at one Georgia plant between June 2011 and March 2013.

7. Salmonella from imported cucumbers, 84 sick. Investigators eventually traced this outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul back to cucumbers imported from Mexico. Of those confirmed ill, 17 were hospitalized. The importers were barred from bringing more products into the U.S. until they could prove the products were not contaminated.

6. E. coli O157:H7 from Federico’s Mexican Restaurant in Litchfield Park, AZ, 94 sick. Investigators have implicated lettuce served at the restaurant as the likely source of the E. coli, but no other restaurants in the area had cases connected to them. The lettuce may have been cross-contaminated from another food at the restaurant, or the restaurant may have received a highly contaminated batch. Two victims developed HUS as a result of their infections.

5. Salmonella from Foster Farms chicken, 134 sick. The first of two Foster Farms outbreaks in 2013 hit Washington and Oregon the hardest, but then spread out across 13 states. At least 33 people were hospitalized, with infections likely resulting from cross-contamination or undercooking of highly contaminated raw chicken. Foster Farms has not issued a recall for either of the two major outbreaks caused by chicken it produced this year.

4. Hepatitis A from Townsend Farms frozen organic berries, 162 sick. At least 71 people were hospitalized after eating an organic berry mix purchased at Costco stores in the Southwest. The exact source of the outbreak was eventually traced back to pomegranate seeds from Turkey which were contained within the mix.

3. Salmonella from dining at Firefly restaurant in Las Vegas, NV, 294 sick. Patrons of this popular Las Vegas tapas restaurant fell ill after dining within a five-day stretch in April. The owners ultimately closed up shop and re-opened the restaurant in a new location.

2. Salmonella from Foster Farms chicken, 416 sick. While this outbreak appears to be ongoing, hundreds of individuals have fallen ill over the course of the year in connection with raw chicken processed at Foster Farms facilities in California. At least 162 people have been hospitalized after likely undercooking the contaminated raw chicken or handling it in a way that lead to accidental cross-contamination. Foster Farms has refused to issue a recall, and cases continue to appear as recently as early December.

1. Cyclospora from salads and cilantro, 631 sick. The outbreak of this foodborne parasite also takes the title for most confusing, as it appeared to be two separate Cyclospora outbreaks working in tandem. One set of patients – predominantly from Iowa and Nebraska – clearly appeared to be connected to Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants (both owned by Darden Restaurants), while, just weeks later, patients in Texas began cropping up with no apparent connection to those restaurants. The Darden illnesses were tentatively traced to lettuce supplier Taylor Farms de Mexico, but no contamination could be found at the farms. Meanwhile, many of the Texas illnesses seemed to implicate fresh cilantro grown in Puebla, Mexico. [CDC outbreak information]


Statement from FDA on Key Provisions of the Proposed FSMA Rules

December 20th, 2013

From FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, Michael Taylor, 12/19/13. 


FDA appreciates and takes very seriously the extensive input we have received from produce farmers and others in the agricultural sector on the proposed FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules on produce safety and preventive controls for human food, which we published in January 2013. We have made every effort to solicit input on the proposed rules, not only through the standard rule-making process, but also by participating in more than 150 meetings and by traveling to numerous farms of varying types and sizes from Maine to California. To ensure broad input and facilitate constructive dialogue with the produce community, FDA has extended the comment periods on the proposed rules three times.

Based on our discussions with farmers, the research community and other input we have received, we have learned a great deal, and our thinking has evolved. Everyone shares the goal of ensuring produce safety, but, as we said at the beginning of the process, the new safety standards must be flexible enough to accommodate reasonably the great diversity of the produce sector, and they must be practical to implement.

To achieve this goal, we believe that significant changes will be needed in key provisions of the two proposed rules affecting small and large farmers. These provisions include water quality standards and testing, standards for using raw manure and compost, certain provisions affecting mixed-use facilities, and procedures for withdrawing the qualified exemption for certain farms. We have heard the concern that these provisions, as proposed, would not fully achieve our goal of implementing the law in a way that improves public health protections while minimizing undue burden on farmers and other food producers.

Because the changes to the key provisions would be significant, FDA plans to propose revised rule language and seek comment on it, allowing the public the opportunity to provide input on our new thinking. There may be other revisions to the proposed rules; the scope of the revised proposals, on which we will seek further comment, will be determined after we complete our initial review of written comments. We believe that this additional step to seek further input on revised sections of the proposed rules that need significant adjustment is critical to fulfilling our continuing commitment to getting these rules right.

Our plan is to publish revised proposed rule language by early summer 2014. We will accept additional comments only on those sections of the proposed rules that have been revised. FDA remains under a court order regarding the timelines for finalizing these rules. FDA recognizes that completing these rules is essential to protecting the public health and is committed to completing them as quickly as possible.

It is gratifying to FDA that in our meetings around the country, we have received broad support for moving forward in implementing FSMA in a timely manner in light of its important food safety and public confidence goals. Thanks to all of you who have worked with us. We will continue this collaborative approach as we move down the pathway to final rules and to full implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act in the years to come.


Fall 2013 GAP Workshop Schedule

August 28th, 2013

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will conduct Level 1 and Level 2 GAP Workshops for fruit and vegetable producers in the Fall of 2013. These one-day workshops are important for growers who want to better understand how GAP certification can be used to meet buyer requirements for food safety.   These workshops are made possible by a grant from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Services Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.


The key instructors will be Dr. Angela Shaw, Dr. Paul Domoto, Dr. Catherine Strohbehn, Linda Naeve, and Heather Snyder.
The course descriptions for both levels are as follows:
Level 1 KNOW: farmers who provide food direct to consumers through community–supported agriculture (CSA) or farmers’ markets or considering retail foodservice sales will be trained in good agriculture best practices and market considerations.
Level 2 SHOW: farmers are those considering sales to retail foodservices, such as grocers, restaurants, hospitals, and other institutions, and those interested in adding value to fresh produce and selling products in a convenience form.  Those completing this workshop will have the “bones” of their farm’s written food safety plan in place to demonstrate GAPs are in place and provide food safety assurances to buyers.
The workshop schedule for 2013 is shown below. The fee is $25 per workshop with discounts for farms and multiple level participation. Attendees will receive a certificate from USDA and ISU of completion following the program.



Click here to register online.  Registration is due one week before the class date.  If you have questions please contact Heather Snyder at 515-294-9020 or email at hsnyder@iastate.edu.



Each workshop runs from 8:30am to 3:00pm. Materials, Breaks, and Lunch is provided

Level 1

Sept. 24 Johnson County Extension office ( 3109 Old Highway 218 South, Iowa City)
Sept. 26  Hawkeye Community College (Campus 1501 East Orange Road Waterloo, Iowa)
Oct. 3      Dubuque County Extension Office (14858 W Ridge Ln, Dubuque, IA)
Oct. 8      Polk County Extension Office (1625 Adventureland Dr Altoona, IA)
Nov. 12    Iowa Western Community College, 2700 College Rd Council Bluffs

Level 2

Oct. 1     Johnson County Extension office ( 3109 Old Highway 218 South, Iowa City)
Oct. 15   Adventureland Resort, Iowa Room 1&2 (305 34th Ave NW  Altoona, IA)
Oct. 17   Hawkeye Community College (Campus 1501 East Orange Road Waterloo, Iowa)
Oct. 24  Hy-Vee community room at 2395 Northwest Arterial, Dubuque, IA
Nov. 21  Iowa Western Community College, 2700 College Rd Council Bluffs


Iowa Produce Cleared in Cyclospora Outbreak

July 25th, 2013

Investigators in Iowa are ready for federal agencies to pick up the ball in the multi-state cyclospora parasite-related outbreak saying they have eliminated Iowa-grown produce as the source.

“We don’t believe it was an Iowa product because the cases are spread across the state and none of our (produce) farmers have that kind of distribution network,” said Steven Mandernach, bureau chief for food and consumer safety at Iowa’s Department of Inspections and Appeals.

As of July 16, Iowa’s Department of Health reported 81 confirmed cases — up 10 from the day before. In Nebraska, the case count was at 53 on July 16. Public health officials in both states believe fresh vegetables, not fruit, is the source.

An update from Dr. Joseph Acierno, Nebraska’s chief medical officer and director of public health, echoed comments from Iowa officials, saying that patient interviews, illness onset dates and the widespread nature of the outbreak suggest locally grown produce is not part of this outbreak.

“Interviews also show people’s symptoms started no later than the end of June, which suggests the contaminated food source may have worked its way through the system since fresh produce has a limited shelf life,” Acierno said in his update.

Iowa’s Mandernach said he and other Iowa officials have given all of their traceback investigation information to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which the state has been working with since the outbreak was discovered in late June.

“We told them yesterday afternoon in our call that we think it’s time to transition the investigation to the FDA and CDC and that we would like that to happen by mid-week.”

CDC Communications Center, AtlantaOn July 15, CDC spokeswoman Sharon Hoskins said federal officials are assisting but that “Iowa and Nebraska are leading the investigation.”

- See more at: http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-enewsletter/Week_In_Review/Officials-think-fresh-veggies-likely-cause-of-cyclospora-outbreak-215584211.html#sthash.QpMZN5kW.dpuf


Food Pantry Produce Donations

July 24th, 2013

Donations from local fruit and vegetable growers are important to food pantries. Food pantry clients want in-season produce, and this type of food provides nutritional benefits to them. Because food safety begins at the farm level, food pantry workers may ask questions to ensure donated foods have a low food safety risk.  A new publication by ISU Extension and Outreach provides information to growers about safe on-farm food practices and information to food pantry workers about how to keep donated produce safe.

Food Safety Guidelines

Fall GAP Workshops Scheduled

July 1st, 2013

Along with increasing consumer interests in buying locally grown foods come food safety expectations from buyers. Good Agricultural Practices, or GAP, certification can be used by fruit and vegetable producers to meet buyer requirements for food safety.  Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will hold GAP workshops this fall for farmers who sell directly to consumers and those considering sales to retail foodservices.

The one-day workshops are offered as Level 1: KNOW and Level 2: SHOW. Level 1 is training for growers who provide food to consumers through community–supported agriculture or farmers’ markets, or are considering retail foodservice sales. Training covers good agriculture best practices and market considerations.

Level 2 workshops guide farmers in the development of a written farm food safety plan. Farmers considering sales to retail foodservices such as grocers, restaurants, hospitals and other institutions, and those interested in adding value to fresh produce and selling products in a convenience form will have the tools to demonstrate GAPs are in place after attending the workshop. Farmers then can offer food safety assurances to buyers.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach faculty and specialists instructing the workshops include Angela Shaw, food safety; Paul Domoto, horticulture; Catherine Strohbehn, food safety and local foods systems; and Linda Naeve, value added agriculure. The workshops are funded through a grant from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Services Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

2013 GAP workshop schedule

Council Bluffs Workshops – Iowa Western Community College, 2700 Colege Road

  • Level 1 – Nov. 12; registration deadline Nov. 5
  • Level 2 – Nov. 21; registration deadline Nov. 14

Des Moines Workshops – DMACC Continuing Ed Center at Southridge Mall, 1111 East Army Post Road

  • Level 1 – Oct. 8; registration deadline Oct. 1
  • Level 2 – Oct. 15; registration deadline Oct. 8

Dubuque Workshops – Dubuque County Extension Office, 14858 W Ridge Lane

  • Level 1 – Oct. 3; registration deadline Sept. 26
  • Level 2 – Oct. 24; registration deadline Oct. 17

Iowa City Workshops – Johnson County Extension Office, 3109 Old Highway 218 South

  • Level 1 – Sept. 24; registration deadline Sept. 17
  • Level 2 – Oct. 1; registration deadline Sept. 24

The fee is $25 per workshop with discounts for farms and multiple level participation. Attendees will receive a certificate of completion following the program. Registration can be made online at http://bit.ly/12sLsxE . For more information or to book a date, please contact Heather Snyder at 515-294-9020 or email at hsnyder@iastate.edu.


Using Produce from Flooded Gardens

June 24th, 2013

Rain continues to fall in excessive amounts across the state.  After some severe flooding in northeast Iowa, I have been receiving questions about flooded gardens and vegetable fields.


If you are selling product to customers, you have a responsibility to minimize its risk to others.  Never sell produce from a flood-damaged garden at a farm market or farm stand until you are sure that all contamination has been removed from the garden, usually a period of at least one month after the last incidence of flooding.


Another way to think about this, is to assume that the floodwater contained manure and refer to the GAPs related to using untreated manure:

  • Incorporate untreated manure into soil prior to planting (to induce microbial competition).
  • Do not apply untreated manure or leachate from manure to produce fields during the growing season prior to harvest.
  • Maximize the time between application of manure and harvest of produce (at least 120 days).
  • Do not use untreated manure where the above GAPs are not possible, such as for fresh produce harvested throughout most of the year.


If a production field is identified as unsalable, you may still have some options for harvest out of that field for personal use. Here are some publications to review.  The text from the WI publication is also posted below.

Garden Produce in Floods,  ISU Extension

Safely Using Produce from Flooded Gardens, U of Wisconsin Extension



After flooding occurs, gardeners often raise questions about the safety of consuming produce from gardens that were under water for a day or two.  How concerned gardeners have to be about using garden produce after a flood depends, to a large degree, on how “clean” the flood water was or whether it was likely to have been contaminated with sewage, river or creek water, farm run-off, or industrial pollutants.  The most conservative answer — one that eliminates any and all risks — is that gardeners should discard all produce that was touched by flood water.  However, if flooding occurs early, there will typically be weeks left in the growing season, and gardeners will likely wish to salvage some crops.  The following are tips for considering what can be salvaged and what must be discarded from a flooded garden.


Produce can be cooked to ensure safety.  This is the best choice if anything that was touched by flood water will be served to those most at risk for serious consequences from microbial food-borne illnesses: young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.  Note that cooking will not eliminate the risk posed by industrial pollutants.


Discard all produce that is normally consumed uncooked (raw), including all leafy vegetables such as lettuce or spinach, regardless of how mature the plants are.  It is not possible to clean these crops as they have many ridges and crevices that could contain contaminated silt or bacteria.  All soft fruits that are ready to harvest, such as strawberries or raspberries, should also be discarded unless they can be cooked; they too are impossible to thoroughly clean and cannot be safely consumed raw.


Other produce may be salvaged depending on the crop and how far along it is in the growing season.  In general, any produce where the edible part was directly touched by flood water presents a potential risk to health if consumed.  This includes produce that was submerged or splashed by flood water.  The ability to salvage crops that will be eaten raw with minimal risk depends on the source of the flood water, time to harvest, and whether potential contamination will have been internalized into the plant tissue.  One starting point for evaluating the safety of produce from flooded gardens is the National Organic Program (NOP) guidance to farmers wishing to harvest produce from soil fertilized with non-composted manure.  The NOP requires a 90-day period before harvesting edible material from plants grown in soil fertilized with non-composted manure, but where the manure has not come in contact with the edible material.  NOP standards require a 120-day period before harvest of edible plant material that had direct contact with non-composted manure.  Research suggests that contamination from non-composted manure should present a more significant health risk than contamination from flood waters.


Early season crops that are to be harvested within a few weeks after a flood, and that remain above flood waters should be safe to eat if cooked or peeled.  Examine any produce carefully before harvest.  If it is soft, cracked, bruised, or has open fissures where contamination might have entered, throw it out.  Intact produce can be eaten, but should be rinsed with clear tap water (DO NOT use soap) followed by a brief soak (2 minutes) in a weak chlorine solution of two tablespoons bleach in a gallon of water.  Finally, rinse the produce in cool, clean tap water.  Peel or cook these items thoroughly before eating.  Take care to prevent cross contamination in the kitchen.  Change the bleach solution if the water is no longer clean.


Plants where fruits have set (tomatoes) or where flowers are evident (broccoli/cauliflower) at the time of flooding present an undefined risk.  Before consuming these crops raw, consider the source of the flood water, the time since contamination, and the health of the tissue.  Always discard any tissue that is bruised, cracked or otherwise blemished.  Washing fresh produce with clear water, followed by a brief soak in a dilute bleach solution (see above) and then rinsing before eating or peeling will help to reduce any remaining risk.


Underground vegetables such as beets, carrots and potatoes that are still early in their growth (at least four to eight weeks from harvest) should be safe if allowed to grow to maturity.  Root crops (i.e. new potatoes) that will be consumed within a month after flooding should be washed, rinsed and sanitized as directed above before cooking thoroughly.  Note that beets may be peeled after cooking, if desired.


Melons and other fruits that will be eaten raw should not be consumed.  Recent food-borne illness outbreaks linked to melons suggest that these low-acid fruits may not be safe even if surface-sanitized.


Late-season vegetables that result from flowers produced on growth that develops after flood waters subside should be safe.  This group of vegetables includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, cucumbers, and other similar vegetables.  To increase safety, cook these vegetables  thoroughly, or at least wash them well and peel them, if possible, before eating.


Flood-damaged garden produce that is otherwise unfit for eating should not be canned or otherwise preserved.  Garden produce that would be safe to consume after washing, sanitizing and cooking (see above) may be safely canned.  Because the low temperature of home dehydrators does not destroy high numbers of bacteria, do not attempt to dehydrate produce from flooded gardens.


Source: Safely Using Produce from Flooded Gardens, Barbara Ingham and Steve Ingham, UW-Food Science, 3/28/2009.


Food Safety Guidelines, Harvesting

Food Safety at U-Pick Farms

June 11th, 2013
Field washing JG Ranch

Photo credit: tripadvisor.com

The U-Pick season is quickly approaching. Customers can carry and spread microbial pathogens like any other farm worker. It is important to remember that all customers entering the U-pick field need to be aware and follow good hygiene practices, too.

Encouraging customers to wash their hands prior to and after picking sends a positive message about farm stewardship and reduces microbial risks. Providing clean, accessible restrooms and handwashing facilities are essential, along with posting signs encouraging visitors to use these facilities.  Post signs on your property that remind customers to wash their hands before entering U-pick fields and locations of restroom facilities.

Click here for a guide to help you assess food safety practices on your farm.

U-Pick Food Safety Considerations:

  • Hand washing
  • Restroom locations
  • Not harvesting while sick with foodborne illness
  • No animals in the fields

Facilities & Design, Food Safety Guidelines, Harvesting