Highlights of SSA Accomplishments

SSA-FDA Webinar -2016

The Sprout Safety Alliance (SSA) hosted a FDA webinar “Final Rule for Produce Safety: Key Provisions in the Rule” on January 14, 2016. Dr. Annemarie Buchholz, Co-Lead of the Sprout Safety Alliance, and Consumer Safety Officer with Division of Produce Safety at CFSAN/FDA, provided an overview of the finalized FDA Produce Safety Rule, specifying on requirements for spout growers. Please click the link below for the presentation:

SSA-FDA Webinar -2015

The Sprout Safety Alliance (SSA) hosted a FDA webinar “Implementing the Produce Rule” on May 22, 2015. Following a brief presentation about the SSA overview and progress, Ms. Fazila Shakier, Co-Lead of Phase Two FSMA Produce Implementation Workgroup, Division of Produce Safety in CFSAN/FDA, provided an overview of FDA's current thinking on the operational strategy for implementation of the Produce Safety Rule, “Implementing the Produce Rule”. Please click the links below for the webinar materials:

SSA Focus Group Meeting

Chicago, IL – Dec 2015: The SSA hosted a focus group meeting for Chicago local sprout growers to: (1) discuss about four key chapters of the SSA curriculum (Spent Irrigation Water Testing, Environmental Monitoring for Listeria, Recordkeeping Procedure and FDA Finalized Produce Safety Rule Outline) and some example SOPs and forms; and (2) obtain feedback from sprout growers, inspectors and food safety trainers on training materials and format. Fourteen individuals representing sprout growers, Illinois and Indiana state regulators, feral inspectors and university extension specialists participated in the meeting.

SSA Pilot Training/Feedback Sessions

  • Vancouver, BC -- Aug 2012
  • Chicago, IL -- Feb 2013
  • Washington DC -- Oct 2013
  • Richmond, CA -- Aug 2014

FDA honors SSA with Award!

Participants in the SSA were recognized at the 53rd Annual FDA Honor Awards Ceremony with the Group Recognition Award. This award recognizes “superior achievement of the Agency’s mission through teamwork, partnership, shared responsibility, or fostering collaboration and coalition to achieve FDA goals.” The development of the training programs and curriculum is a truly collaborative effort between the sprout industry, academia and federal, state and local government representatives, and the SSA team is honored to be recognized for their hard work.

List of Accomplishments

February 2012

  • Official announcement of the formation of the SSA
  • Organizing and Steering Committees formed

May 2012

  • A Sharefile system was established for the Alliance to enable the sharing of content between participants
  • Joy Johanson discussed the SSA in a presentation at the Capital Area Food Protection Association in Washington, DC on May 17
  • A Steering Committee meeting was held in Rosemont, IL on May 30 and 31, where attendees discussed the approach to curriculum development and training, and the Technical and Education & Outreach Working Groups were formed

June 2012

  • The SSA website was launched, and populated with resources, Alliance information, and contact details for interested stakeholders
  • Technical Working Group biweekly conference calls initiated, with participants including sprout growers, seed suppliers, retail representatives, academia, federal and state government representatives, auditing specialists, consultants and testing companies, from U.S.A., Canada and Mexico. Purpose of the conference calls is to discuss and develop initial training material, organized into ‘chapters’ of content

August 2012

  • Members of the SSA presented initial content to attendees at the International Sprout Grower’s Association (ISGA) Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, on August 24, in order to discuss with sprout growers the purpose and objectives of the Alliance and to obtain initial feedback on the chapter contents

October 2012

  • The Education and Outreach Working Group began conducting conference calls to discuss the dissemination of information developed by the Technical Working Group

January 2013

  • The Final Rule under FSMA for Produce: Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption was released on January 4 for public comment. Specific requirements for sprout production will be covered under this Final Rule

  • Stephen Grove presented the objectives and progress of the SSA during an invited presentation at the International Processing and Production Expo 2013 in Atlanta, GA, on January 30

Feburary 2013

  • A pilot training session was held on February 14 at the Institute for Food Safety and Health in Bedford Park, IL. Content developed by the Technical Working Group was presented and discussed with 15 attendees, including representatives from small and very small sprout growers from the Chicagoland area, as well as officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health

March 2013

  • The SSA, in conjunction with the Institute for Food Safety and Health, conducted a webinar for more than 30 industry and government registrants on March 20. Produce Safety Staff from FDA-CFSAN and participants from the SSA discussed the Final Rule for produce safety, and the webinar concluded with a question and answer session.

May 2013

  • Stephen Grove presented recent developments and accomplishments of the SSA to attendees of the ISGA Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, on May 15. The FDA’s proposed requirements for sprout production were also discussed, and the feedback provided from attendees was valuable to the SSA in helping to shape the curriculum development.

October 2013

  • A pilot training session was held on October 24 in Greenbelt, MD. Almost 40 attendees participated in the session to see updated training content developed by the Technical Working Group and to hear from the FDA about the Final Rule for produce safety. Participants from the sprout industry, state and federal government agencies discussed current industry practices and needs for the training content, providing the SSA with valuable feedback.

June 2014

  • SSA Steering Committee meeting was held to review the progress made and discuss the timeline for future activities. The technical working group reported that nine of the thirteen chapters have been completed. The education/outreach working group has been in contact with the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) to familiarize with PSA’s approaches in engaging farmers and in developing the framework for delivery of trainings.
  • SSA Co-Chair Robin Kalinowski provided an overview of the history, mission, current progress and future plans of the Alliance at the United Fresh 2014 in Chicago, IL.

August 2014

  • SSA Co-Chair Dr. Kaiping Deng provided an update of SSA to members of the Vegetables & Fruits Professional Development Group at the 2014 International Association for Food Protection annual meeting in Indianapolis, IN.
  • A pilot training/feedback session was held in Richmond, CA by the SSA in collaboration with the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. More than 30 individuals representing sprout growers, testing service labs and California state inspectors participated in the session. The participants were given an overview of the FDA proposed rule for produce safety, an industry perspective on the best practices for safer sprout production, and trial lectures on Sprout Safety Hazards, Seed Sourcing, and Spent Irrigation Water Testing. Valuable feedback was received that will be used for improving the curriculum and for developing future training protocols.
  • SSA and the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA), in collaboration with the Food and Drug Association (FDA), hosted a webinar to update stakeholders on the progress of the Alliances. Special guest, Roberta Wagner, Deputy Director for Regulatory Affairs at FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), provided an overview presentation on FDA's FSMA Implementation Operational Strategy, "FSMA: Where We've Been, And Where We Are Going".

September 2014

  • The SSA Steering Committee discussed the approaches in developing training format and the framework for conducting the training. The education/outreach working group initiated two subgroups, one to develop the criteria for trainer qualifications and the other to prepare a survey for sprout growers to determine preferences for training format and delivery.