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ASCC-ACNR hosts food safety training conducted by University of Idaho

Dr. Jang Ho Kim speaking at ood safety training

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Representatives from several local government departments along with staff from the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) – Agriculture, Community and Natural Resources (ACNR) Division completed a Food Safety Training conducted by the University of Idaho and hosted by ASCC-ACNR. The three-day training focused on enhancing food safety in American Samoa and is part of the University of Idaho’s “Customized Food Safety Education Strategy for Hard-to-Reach Audiences in the Western Pacific Islands” project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“Through this partnership between the University of Idaho, University of Guam, College of Micronesia, Northern Marianas College, and ASCC, we are able to provide training to assess food safety knowledge among our local professionals and to provide current food safety plans and standards for produce safety and food safety education materials,” said ASCC-ACNR Agriculture Extension Program Manager Autagavaia Alfred Peters. Food safety refers to the proper handling procedures applied during food preparation, processing, storage, and distribution of food and food products to prevent food-borne illness. All people are affected by food safety. Unsafe food can cause illness and even lead to food-borne disease outbreak.

The food safety training team consisted of University of Idaho Consumer Food Safety Extension Specialist Dr. Jang Ho Kim and Food Technology Center Director Joshua Bevan, joined by Extension Specialist and Professor of Food Science, Dr. Jian Yang, from the University of Guam. “This project provides food safety education and trainings to extension agents, educators, public health agents, and agricultural professionals and paraprofessionals in the region. These trained food safety professionals are then expected to provide current food safety trainings and information to socially disadvantaged and isolated small farmers, processors, and other stakeholders within their jurisdictions,” said Dr. Kim.

The training gave participants insight into food safety and protection. Several topics were discussed during the training including produce safety, farm worker health and hygiene, postharvest handling and sanitation, an introduction to the Food Safety Modernization Act, preventive control for human food, starting a food business and product development, and current good manufacturing practices. Participants also visited local eco-farms and small food manufacturing facilities including Tutuila Green, umu vendor La’i Ah Chong, and the Moana Chips manufacturing facility. Training participants included representatives from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health (DOH) – Environmental Health Services (EHS) Division, American the Department of Education School Lunch Program, and staff from the ASCC-ACNR’s Agriculture Extension Program, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Health and Wellness Program, and Horticulture Research Program.

 “Our staff gained more knowledge on food safety and produce safety along with materials to utilize for training local food handlers, food preparers, and food establishment owners and managers,” said DOH-EHS Manager Aileen Solaita. “We continue to encourage all food establishments to be vigilant about food safety and to stay educated on how to handle food safely to prevent foodborne illnesses or outbreak.”