JIFSAN’s Global Collaborative Food Safety Training Initiative
JIFSAN is a public-private-academic partnership whose mission is to advance sound strategies that improve public health, food safety, and applied nutrition using risk analysis principles through cooperative research, education, and outreach programs. One of JIFSAN's main strategic thrusts is to foster the establishment of sustainable partnerships for research, training and outreach globally. JIFSAN has been a key player in the development and delivery of food safety training programs to the international community since the beginning of this century. JIFSAN’s existing programs Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Good Aquacultural Practices (GAqP) + Seafood HACCP; Good Fisheries Vessel Practices (GFvP) + Seafood HACCP; Commercially Sterile Packaged Food (CSPF) Food Inspector Training (FIT), and Supply Chain Management for Spices and Botanical Ingredients (SCMSBI) programs have been offered over 60 times in some 22 different countries. In general these programs are conducted by JIFSAN and FDA instructors working collaboratively with other U.S. government agencies and foreign governments and in-country partners to deliver the training programs in country. Building on these efforts, JIFSAN and FDA explored ways to leverage their existing training resources by developing partnerships within a country/region to increase the cadre of in-country trainers; the development of the JIFSAN Collaborative Food Safety Training Initiative. The key principles in the development of these partnerships are articulated in FDA’s International Capacity Building Plan (page 6, http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm301708.htm) – Ownership, Alignment, Leverage, Managing for Results, Mutual Accountability, and Sustainability.
It is anticipated that the impact of these partnerships would go beyond helping to ensure the safety of food exported to the U.S., but also improve the safety of the country’s domestic food supply as well as the health and livelihoods of those producing the food.
The basic concept for JIFSAN’s Global Collaborative Food Safety Training Initiative is based on a framework developed through interactions that began in 2009 between JIFSAN, FDA and the Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation (BSFF). The idea was to establish a collaborative training center as a vehicle to sustain in-country training and capacity building efforts within Bangladesh to help ensure the production of safe aquaculture products. That Center, The Aquatic and Aquaculture Food Safety Center (AAFSC) has been successfully operating for several years.
The Center for Supply Chain Management for Spices and Botanicals Ingredients (SCMSBI) was established in India in collaboration with India Spice Board and the Confederation of India Industry – Food and Agriculture Centre of Excellence (CII-FACE).
Most recently an agreement was finalized with King Mongkutt's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) in Thailand where a Center for Commercially Sterile Package Foods (CSPF) will be established.
Additionally, JIFSAN and the University of Maryland are working with a consultant of the Malaysian Ministry of Health to increase Malaysia’s food safety system’s infrastructure through a 3-year train-the-trainer agreement that focuses on building: laboratory testing capacity; risk analysis capabilities; increasing the skills of the Ministry’s food inspection staff; and increasing their understanding of global food laws and regulations.
General Approach in the Development of Food Safety Training Partnerships
In order for these efforts to lead to a sustainable program within a given country/region JIFSAN works with the host country to identify and obtain buy-in of in-country partners from government, industry, academia and local institutions; the program utilizes existing resources within the host country; and the partners work to develop a cadre of in-country trainers to conduct on-going extension-like training. The partnership can be formalized with the development of an Agreement of Cooperation or other formal agreement.
The development of these training Centers is generally through a phased approach and includes a combination of in-country training activities as well as training opportunities at JIFSAN’s facilities in College Park and if appropriate other locations within the United States.
For example, upon identification of an in-country partner and program focus, JIFSAN in collaboration with the partner prepares to conduct a standard JIFSAN food safety training program (e.g., GAPs, GAqPs (including HACCP principles), FIT, or CSPF) in country (Phase 1). The in-country partner identifies 8-10 individuals from this initial course offering to become future trainers by participating in an intensive 2-week internship in the United States (Phase II). During the 2-week workshop, the participants develop a plan of action on how to proceed in the promulgating the training in-country to industry, government, primary producers, etc. The next steps (Phase III and IV) are flexible and are dependent upon the needs of the in-country partners. Phase III may include assistance from JIFSAN trainers in the development of country/region specific training modules followed by a training workshop in-country where the trainees take on the primary responsibility of teaching with some assistance from JIFSAN trainers (e.g., the initiative with BSFF in Bangladesh). Or the in-country partner’s plan involves getting buy-in from government partners and then proceeds to conduct train-the-trainer programs based on the materials provided by JIFSAN followed by the new trainers conducting small training events in the local villages for the primary producers (e.g., the initiative with India Spice Board and CII-FACE).
In some instances – due to JIFSAN’s reputation as a premier source of food safety training programs – the competent authority from a country has reached out directly to JIFSAN and the University of Maryland to assist in enhancing their country’s food safety and quality program – examples include programs requested and funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Thailand; Ministry of Agriculture, Jamaica; and the aforementioned Malaysia training program.
In-country Partner(s) Role:
- Develop a cadre/network of in-country trainers by partnering with other interested parties;
- Identify country/region specific training needs;
- Development of in-country training modules for specific needs/audiences;
- Hosting workshops, training sessions, and seminars for regulatory officials, primary producers (e.g., growers) and the food industry; and
- Development of a framework for managing for results (i.e., how do you measure the effectiveness of the activities and their impact of food safety and public health).
- Deliver traditional in-country training programs as appropriate;
- Assist in the development of in-country training modules for specific needs/audiences;
- Provide continuing training opportunities for partners (depending on available funding);
- Identify appropriate expertise needed for assistance; and
- Assist partner in the development of appropriate metrics for measuring effectiveness of the initiative.
FDA/CFSAN Role (where applicable):
- Based on capacity building priorities of the Foods Program: identify appropriate country/region; and identify market sector that will be the initial focus;
- Assist in identifying appropriate in-country organizations(s) as primary partner(s); and
- If appropriate, provide staff to participate as part of the teaching cadre.