September 26, 2012
Missouri Departments of Agriculture, Health and Senior Services Awarded Competitive Grants to Support Food Safety Efforts
The Missouri departments of Agriculture and Health and Senior Services have been awarded three competitive grants from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support food safety efforts, including training and inspection programs. The grant funds will create new training opportunities related to preventing the spread of disease, improving sanitation and educating processors on best practices for handling agricultural products, from fresh produce to poultry.
"Food safety is key to our mission at the Missouri Department of Agriculture and will continue to be a top priority," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "This is an outstanding opportunity for us to continue to strengthen our food safety training and inspection efforts, ensuring that Missouri remains the leader in agriculture it is today well into the future."
The Missouri departments of Agriculture and Health and Senior Services applied for these grants in July of this year with the grant funds going toward supporting partnerships with federal, state and local agencies and organizations to develop and support training, outreach and inspection services. Implementation of these new grant programs will begin in the coming weeks and will include strengthening partnerships, as well as developing a training program that will be one of only a handful of such programs in the Midwest,
The grants include:
- The Missouri Food Safety Council Initiative provides the Missouri Department of Agriculture $300,000 over three years to train producers as well as state and local staff to assess processing facilities for potential food safety risks, establish control points, implement safety plans and respond to food safety emergencies within processing and packaging facilities. The grant will also provide tools to train producers and processors on USDA Good Handling Practices and Good Agricultural Practices, the universal standard for the safe handling of produce.
Missouri is one of only eight states nationwide selected for funding through this grant program.
- The Food Production Rapid Response Teams funds provide $900,000 over three years to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The Missouri Department of Agriculture will share in those funds for the development of collaborative training programs for staff, as well as for staff from local public health agencies, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Funds will be used to provide workshops and other hands-on exercises for individuals likely to be called upon in the event of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or an outbreak of food borne illness.
Through this grant, Missouri has the opportunity to join an elite group of states with specially-trained response teams for food safety emergencies. States which have completed pilot programs under USDA guidance thus far include: California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
- The Missouri Egg Farm Compliance Program funds provide $37,000 to expand efforts within the Missouri Department of Agriculture to train poultry and egg producers on best practices for preventing Salmonella Enteritidis from contaminating eggs on the farm and from further growth during storage and transportation. The grant will also provide for inspections and testing for the bacteria on poultry farms in the upcoming year.
For more information about the Missouri Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit mda.mo.gov. Information regarding the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services can be found at health.mo.gov.