Cal Poly Professors to Develop Food Safety Training Program for Leafy Greens Growers with $214,000 Grant

Partnership with Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria Aims to Tackle Food Safety Challenges

Each year an estimated 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A two-year collaborative project between professors at Cal Poly and Allan Hancock College, a community college in Santa Maria, aims to reduce that number.

Three Cal Poly professors representing diverse areas of discipline in Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture Food and Environmental Sciences have formed a partnership with Allan Hancock College to train socially-disadvantaged farmers in food safety compliance. The project is funded by a $214,000 grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Agribusiness Professor Jeta Rudi Polloshka, an applied economist, is heading the two-year project at Cal Poly, which will develop and implement a training program for leafy green farmers in the Santa Maria region in compliance of the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed in 2011.

“Given the recent prominent food safety outbreaks involving romaine lettuce and the importance of the leafy greens industry to California, we will work specifically with operators of small and very small leafy greens farms in the Santa Maria Valley,” Polloshka said. “We hope to work with operators of Hispanic origin, given the documented challenges they face in developing regulation compliance due to barriers in language, education, and other resources.”

Cal Poly professors Amanda Lathrop, food science, and Karen Cannon, agricultural communication, will address produce safety plans and food safety communications aspects of the project. Allan Hancock Professor Erin Krier, who coordinates the community college’s agriculture program, is also collaborating with the group.

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