Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dr. Barakat Mahmoud (Food Safety Specialist) volunteers with Royal Produce Company in Guatemala

Dr. Barakat Mahmoud recently returned from completing a Farmer-to-Farmer assignment in Guatemala where he worked with Royal Produce Company, one of the largest vegetables exporters in the country. The purpose of his assignment was to develop and implement an effective food safety plan to ensure compliance with the regulations and/or requirements of the United States. Dr. Mahmoud conducted two workshops: a) Good Agricultural Practices & Good Handling Practices (GAPs & GHPs) workshop with 17 farmers, packers, and managers and b) FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) workshop with seven managers and F2F field staff.

Additionally, Dr. Mahmoud conducted an audit of a green bean packinghouse, including an assessment of their cafeteria, water storage tanks, restrooms, hand-washing stations, instruments cleaning areas, chemical storage facilities/rooms, worker personal hygiene practices, processing areas, packaging materials, and transportation tracks. He then visited four smallscale farms (20-40 acres) that produce snow peas, green beans, green peppers, and tomatoes to provide other recommendations and information on food defense, biosecurity, HACCP, and sanitation control procedures. Approximately 50 (42 females and 8 males) participants (farmers, packers, and managers) have received training and/or technical assistance during his visit. ​

Below are photos from his assignment:

Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer, Barakat Mahmoud,
with the F2F field staff

Dr. Mahmoud makes recommendations on monitoring chlorine
levels in sanitizer solutions for food safety

Checking traceability systems at the Royal Produce packinghouse

Dr. Mahmoud conducts a workshop on GAP and GHP
at Royal Produce training facility

Inspection of processing lines for green beans

Personal Reflection: On his assignment, Dr. Mahmoud said:"As a food safety extension specialist, I always like to teach food safety to producers, especially to international producers. I was surprised how eager the participants were to learn about food safety, particularly FSMA, HACCP, GAPs, GHPs, food defense, sanitation control procedures, etc. The Farmer-to-Farmer program is an amazing program that gives opportunities to developing countries to improve the quality of their lives. I am really glad to be able to volunteer and donate my time to this great program. I am going to use my experience in Guatemala to educate my students, colleagues, fresh produce producers, and other interested stakeholders."

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