24 Jun 2019

Food safety training for American Samoa farmers

12:43 pm on 24 June 2019

Hawai'i's Department of Agriculture is working with farmers in American Samoa for the first time in an effort to boost food safety.

Ofu and Olosega in the Manu'as in American Samoa.

Ofu and Olosega in the Manu'as in American Samoa. Photo: American Samoa Tourism

The department's Luisa Castro said the US Food and Drug Administration was now authorised to help farmers understand new federal food laws that focus on keeping the public safe.

Ms Castro said she was working with farmers who supply American Samoa's School Lunch Program, the LBJ Hospital as well as supermarkets and restaurants.

At workshops over the past week, they looked at best practices to eliminate food contamination, she said.

"We do know that sometimes when we eat produce, we can get sick. A lot of it comes from pathogens, the germs that are on the produce because we are eating things raw. So we are trying to educate the farmers to do better practices on their farms."

The farmers had responded well to the workshops, with each session being full, Ms Castro said.

But old mindsets needed to be broken when in came to food preparation.

"This is very new information for a lot of growers. A lot of people have been doing things a certain way and it is passed down from generation to generation and we all think that we have never made anybody sick but we know from the Department of Health that people do get sick from eating food."