Supply Chain Management for Spices and Botanical Ingredients (SCMSBI)

The SCMSBI Program

Although spices are generally present in foods in low amounts, there have been outbreaks of illness in recent years in which spices or botanical ingredients were believed to be the vehicles for human pathogens. Raw botanical materials and extracts of botanical origin also are consumed in relatively small portions in dietary supplements and over-the-counter medicinal products containing plant-based constituents as the assumed active ingredients. In fact, the FDA recently addressed this problem in a Draft Risk Profile: Pathogens and Filth in Spices and discussed JIFSAN’s ongoing efforts in establishing the SCMSBI Collaborative Training Center.

JIFSAN is partnering with the India Spices Board, the Confederation of India Industry – Food and Agriculture Center of Excellence (CII-FACE), with the support of the US-FDA in the development of a Collaborative Training Center focused on Supply Chain Management for Spices and Botanical Ingredients (SCMSBI). The goal of the Center is to establish a cadre of in-house experts who can offer training in all aspects of food safety management throughout the supply chain.

An agreement was signed September 17, 2012 by JIFSAN, the Spices Board and CII-FACE to establish the SCMSBI Collaborative Training Center for the advancement of food safety in the spices and botanicals ingredients industries. The concept of the center is to develop, through intensive training by JIFSAN and the FDA, a cadre of excellent resident trainers in the SCMSBI Center who can act to promulgate the food safety concepts throughout the industry and the entire supply chain. Exporters will realize the economic benefits of these efforts while domestic and international consumers will benefit from enhanced food safety.

Activities in the Center are being conducted in several Phases as follows:

Phase I Program

In Phase I, experts from JIFSAN and FDA traveled to India to offer basic food safety training focused on spices. The first workshop was held in Cochin, Kerala, India September 17-21, 2012. Participants in this workshop included representatives from the India Spice Board, CII-FACE, Indian government, academia, spice processors, and spice growers. In addition to classroom lectures, two field trips to a farm and processing facility occurred mid-week. A key activity in the workshop was the selection of nine individuals who would participate in the Phase II internship in the US. The topics for the workshop can be seen on the SCMSBI Program Content page.

SCMSBI Kerala, India 2012 Group

SCMSBI, Kochi, Kerala, India group, September 17-21, 2012.

Phase II Program

In the second Phase, a small group of individuals having superior skills as trainers traveled from India to the U.S. for advanced training. The workshop was held during March 25 through April 5, 2013. Nine trainees who attended the first workshop in Cochin, India traveled to the University of Maryland to participate in a 6-day session at the JIFSAN training center. Instructors were recruited from JIFSAN, the FDA and industry. A field trip to a major food manufacturer was included. The group then traveled to the University of Mississippi's National Center for Natural Products Research for an additional 3 days of training on analytical procedures.

The format for this workshop was facilitated by interactive discussion sessions, case studies and lectures on specific topics. On the first day of the workshop the discussion was dedicated the identification of the supply chain for spices and botanical ingredients from the farm to the local or foreign markets. A complete list of the topics covered can be found on the SCMSBI Program Content page.

Course participants from India 2013

Course participants from India, March 25 - April 5, 2013.

Phase III Programs

Phase III and additional phases of CTC activity require the trainers to refine and implement their own training programs in India directed to primary producers and subsequent handlers of the products. The CTC leaders began with a series of meetings with National/State Horticulture Mission officials in May and June, 2013 in the Southern, Central and Northern regions of India. Program leaders worked to sensitize Mission officials to food safety issues and to encourage them to join with the newly formed CTC to conduct food safety training. The responses from the meetings were highly encouraging and CTC leaders moved on to the next steps. Additionally, the Spices Board India and CII-FACE wrote a manual on Food Safety and Supply Side Management of Spices and Botanical Ingredients that was published by the Spices Board India in September 2013. The manual includes sections on food safety issues in the supply chain; GAP for the production and handling of spices; managing food safety during transportation, storage, processing and packaging; as well as licensing and registration of food businesses in India.

Plans were laid by CTC to develop two-day Train-the-Trainer programs. Two of these were to be delivered in each state, giving a total of twenty programs. The goal was to train approximately fifty persons in each program so a total of 1,000 newly trained trainers were projected. In October, 2013 the first three programs were delivered to a total of 218 persons. The newly-trained participants are expected to branch out and deliver training programs to constituents in their region. This is the concept that has been advanced in JIFSAN GAP Train-the-Trainer programs for more than a decade. Phase III Program evaluation forms completed by course participants indicate that the methods and training materials are on-target. Going forward, the effectiveness of training will be monitored and evaluated not only for the purpose of measuring success but also with the intent of continuously searching for ways in which programs can be improved.

A side activity of the World Spice Conference, which convened in Kerala February 16-19, 2014, was to work with SCMSBI-CTC collaborators to discuss and develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) strategy to assist in understanding the impact of the Phase III training programs. The M&E activities are currently being piloted in collaboration with local partners involved in SCMSBI-CTC in India. This will enable the team to measure outcomes to determine the contribution of these programs to improved livelihoods and health benefits. Assessment tools were piloted in the inauguration training program in villages Kaloor and Kaloorkad, Kerala led by Dr. Benjamin Mathew, Program Coordinator for the Santhanpara, Idukki District, who had previously been trained through the SCMSBI-CTC. Representatives from JIFSAN and NCNPR participated. The plan in the upcoming year is to extend the training programs to a number of villages that are involved at critical stages in the supply chain of spices and botanical ingredients exported to the U.S. It is important to note that counties other than the U.S. also benefit from this initiative so the impact is expected to be far-reaching.

Multiple training programs in Phase III are being conducted for different segments and stake holders of the supply chain in various spice producing states with a minimum target of two programs per state. The State Agricultural & Horticultural Departments have been requested to form GAP cells with their Nodal Office in each state. Training was provided to eleven government groups in 2014 in the states of Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh plus four industry programs in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil and Nadu Kerala. To date the Spices Board India has conducted 15 programs reaching a total of over 500 persons trained. Further, 10 additional programs are firmly planned through the first quarter of 2015. These will be conducted in 10 different states in India focusing first on the most important spices-producing states.

Participants in training programs are being drawn from numerous sectors. The Spices Board reports participation from the India Department of Agriculture, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, University Researchers and Extension professionals, farmers' representatives, spices manufacturers and processors, and possibly other groups. Certainly the goal of raising awareness of food safety issues in the supply chain is being met in these programs.

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Anyone with interest in developing a similar program should contact JIFSAN at jifsan@umd.edu.