According to a research, low-tech approaches are the best for food safety. However, the current training for sanitization and food safety uses presentations from high-end technology like slideshows and videos.
The Reason Why Low-tech is Good
The research says that employees of small-scale dairies are unique audiences. For them, the old-school strategies of teaching for producing artisan cheese works best. These strategies don’t depend on electricity. Producing specialty cheese from raw milk has an inherent risk of food safety associated with it. Hence, these small-scale workers need to be trained better.
Foodborne pathogens can contaminate the raw milk and other dairy products in the environment of the dairy farm and its processing. This makes it all the more important to improve food safety in this sector.
On top of that, no one knows much about the level of knowledge of these farmstead cheesemakers of the U.S about the sanitation and food safety.
The Story Of Improvement
The food safety programs of Penn state extension did research for two years and assessed these farmstead cheesemakers of Pennsylvania state.
And then, they developed the training materials that are exhaustive and customized. These materials include richly illustrated and colored flipcharts for training the workers.
The best part about these presentations is one can give them anywhere even on the picnic table. This was out-of-the-box thinking. Training this audience needed something simplistic. And hence, the researchers developed this method to help them. It is based on some of the previous work and studies from the same field.
Although, they developed this training method for the small-scale Pennsylvanian cheese-makers, similar audience across the country is also taking training using this method.
The research was on the sanitation, food safety practices and the personal hygiene of 17 small-scale cheesemaking units. Then, they administered pre and post-test to the workers addressing the evaluation of hand washing skills and food safety knowledge along with their attitude and behavior.
They ran the test for checking the presence of the types of microorganisms on the environmental samples from these processing plants. Also, they studied that where these microorganisms could be found.
After all the research, the workers received the low-tech food safety training. And they also recorded how it changed their behavior. Later, they also measured if the training helped in improving the conditions of the cheese-workers and the processing methods at these plants. It was seen that the circumstances changed and they were better and improved as compared to before.
The module included training with approaches that considered the specific characteristics of very small and small dairy farms. The trainers designed two lessons for providing dairy farm workers with comprehensive knowledge, skill, explanation, and rules of food safety to follow at work.
The first lesson of the training had four steps for sanitizing and cleaning including the reason why they should be followed. The Lesson also covered the basics of cross-contamination and ways to avoid it
The second lesson taught them the importance of adopting practices for good personal hygiene. It also depicted the correct use of the gloves, the proper use of washing the hands and other personal hygiene habits.
The training affected the food handlers. Also, there was a substantial improvement in the indicators of hygiene. Along with that, the environmental assessment improved as well. Some specific microbial population like E. coli significantly reduced. And that was good news.
The most troubling thing that came into light was that these workers had no idea that they weren’t following sound food-safety practices before the training.
They thought they were doing a great job, but in reality, they weren’t. They were working under the dangerous condition and were putting other’s health in danger as well. Personal hygiene and sanitation was a problem.
Following this research and practice, other specialists of food-safety in Penn state extension are developing lessons. These lessons focus on flip charts. The growers of Amish were trained to comply with the food safety procedures and standards of the food product federal FSMA recommends.
A lot is done yet and a lot still remains. This field demands constant studies and patience to make everyone aware of the food-safety practices. And that’s why we say, low-tech is good for food safety.