Date of Graduation
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
Agricultural and Resource Economics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year from foodborne illness. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) shifted the focus of the Food and Drug Administration from response, to prevention of foodborne illness. The FSMA identified seven rules related to food safety prevention measures, including inspection and compliance, response and enhanced partnerships to ensure food safety along the food system, and employee-training compliance measures. Increasing access to healthy, local foods has economic, public health, and environmental benefits. Farm to Institution policies are becoming more popular nationally, but pose concerns related to food safety, labor and liability, food preparation, sourcing products, cost, and seasonality of local products. The West Virginia Fresh Food Act (HB 2396) requires institutions to purchase a minimum of five percent of fresh produce, meat and poultry products from West Virginia producers and processors. Increasing access requires all food actors to be in compliance with FSMA rules as they relate to their scope of engagement with the food system. Produce processors are required to have advanced food safety training in better process controls to be FSMA compliant. This mixed-methods descriptive research study uses a two-phase, mixed methods design to describe the role of produce processors in food safety as constructed by federal food safety regulations and as perceived by food workers in the context of their everyday lives and work experiences. Produce processors require FSMA compliant education to take advantage of Farm to Institution opportunities associated with HB 2396. This research can inform the development of scale-appropriate food processor education to foster this market opportunity and its contribution to regional food system development. As the demand for local food increases, it is critical to further examine produce processor perspectives related to food safety and local food marketing. This research identified (n=11) commercial food processors operating in non-profit kitchens. The majority of operators were white women, above the age of 45, in rural towns with annual sales less than $50,000. When correcting for college education, there was a significant association between perception of time commitments associated with food safety training and rural environments. Perceived barriers identified include lack of centralized information for food safety, access to environments, and access to Process Control Authority and expertise. The results of this research informed the development of a food safety outreach program entitled The House Food Safety Program for Microprocessors.
Govindan, Megan Christine, "Exploring the Perceptions of Produce Processors Operating in Non-Profit Commercial Kitchens in West Virginia" (2021). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8088.