Trainings: What to Expect and How to Find the Right One
Produce growers and packers subject to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule will need to comply with the requirement outlined in § 112.22(c) that states ‘At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.’ The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training Course is one way to satisfy the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirement outlined in § 112.22(c). The PSA has become aware that some trainers are advertising trainings as though they are PSA-affiliated trainings, when they are not. This document has been created to help individuals understand what to expect from a PSA Grower Training and help them identify PSA-affiliated trainings.
The PSA Grower Training curriculum was developed and reviewed in conjunction with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Division of Produce Safety and is a standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the FDA. Additionally, FDA has provided information on their training strategy in the linked document which states that “The agency intends that the standardized curricula being developed by the Alliances and any alternate curricula developed through cooperative agreements are the only ones that will be officially recognized by the FDA.”
How do I know if the course I am attending is a registered Produce Safety Alliance-affiliated Course?
Here are a few questions to ask the trainer or course organizer, or to verify in the advertised materials, before you register for the course.
What’s on the agenda?
PSA Trainers will spend approximately seven hours of instruction time covering content contained in these seven modules:
- Introduction to Produce Safety (~1 hour)
- Worker Health, Hygiene, and Training (~1 hour)
- Soil Amendments (~45 minutes)
- Wildlife, Domesticated Animals, and Land Use (~45 minutes)
- Agricultural Water (Part I: Production Water; Part II: Postharvest Water) (~1 hour 45 minutes)
- Postharvest Handling and Sanitation (~1 hour)
- How to Develop a Farm Food Safety Plan (~45 minutes)
Key parts of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements will be outlined within each module as well as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs).
Who is conducting the training?
Each PSA Grower Training must have at least one PSA Lead Trainer and any additional instructors must be PSA Trainers. This means that all of the trainers teaching your course must have attended the Produce Safety Alliance Train-the-Trainer Course and, in the case of the Produce Safety Alliance Lead Trainer, have submitted and been approved through the PSA Lead Trainer application process. Each trainer should be able to present their certificate from the Association of Food & Drug Officials (AFDO) and the Produce Safety Alliance upon request as proof of PSA Trainer or PSA Lead Trainer status. Many, but not all, trainers choose to be listed on the PSA Trainer Directory, so you can check here to verify trainer status as well.
Is the course organizer offering the Certificate of Course Completion from AFDO?
Each PSA Grower Training Course must be registered with AFDO before the course is offered by the PSA Trainer or PSA Lead Trainer. After the AFDO-registered PSA Grower Training course is completed, all participants that attended the entire course (all 7 modules) are eligible to receive a certificate from AFDO that verifies they completed the training course. To receive a Certificate of Course Completion from AFDO, participants must submit the appropriate paperwork to their trainer at the end of the course and the trainer must submit the paperwork and payment to AFDO. Courses that are not registered with AFDO are not PSA-affiliated courses.
Will you receive the PSA Grower Training Manual at the training?
The PSA Grower Training Manual is required to be provided to each participant at the course in a language that they understand. The manual includes curriculum module slides and slide notes divided by tabs with learning objectives for each module. Additionally, references, a glossary, and FSMA-specific information are included.
Is your training being conducted in a language you understand?
This seems obvious, but it would not be useful to attend a training in a language that you do not understand. Be sure your trainer is going to deliver the course in a language you easily understand. And to reiterate, you must also be provided with a PSA Manual in a language you understand.
The course I signed up for says ‘FSMA Compliant’, ‘FDA Approved’, or ‘PSA Certified’. Will these courses meet the requirement outlined in § 112.22(c)?
This is terminology that the PSA does not encourage or use since the PSA is not responsible for determining course or curriculum equivalency. Registered PSA-affiliated courses do meet the requirement outlined in § 112.22(c). The best way to determine if your course will result in a Certificate of Course Completion from AFDO is to check our website for registered courses, psatrainers [at] cornell.edu (contact our office), or ask the questions above to your trainer or course organizer.
Find a PSA Grower Training Course online.
After courses are registered and approved by AFDO, an enrollment link may be posted on our website for participants to sign up, if they are open to the public. However, not all registered PSA Grower Training Courses will have active enrollment links on the website; some trainings have been designated as ‘private’ with a closed group of participants attending. You can always psatrainers [at] cornell.edu (contact us) and we can check in our database to see if the course has been registered and approved by AFDO before you attend (see next note below).
If you are not sure or have a concern about a particular course or trainer, contact us!
If you are uncertain whether a particular trainer is affiliated with the Produce Safety Alliance or if a particular course is registered with the Association of Food & Drug Officials, you are welcome to psatrainers [at] cornell.edu (contact us) or afdo [at] afdo.org (The Association of Food & Drug Officials). The PSA wants to help you receive high quality, accurate, and up-to-date training that meets your needs. If you have concerns about how a PSA course is being advertised or conducted, please let us know and we will do our best to communicate PSA and AFDO policies to those individuals.