Friday November 6th the Sterling College Value-Added Products class was graced by the presence of Omar Oyarzabal. Omar is an Extension Associate Professor and Food Safety Specialist at UVM. He’s been teaching Food Safety and Introductory HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) for 15 years. He’s made presentations in countries all over the world.

He came to discuss and share knowledge about health and safety regulation requirements for value added food processing. He came with his classical guitar, foam dice and online surveys and taught us about risk, hazard, perception, while keeping things exciting.

We started with personal brief introductions. He asked the class what they wanted to learn from the talk and more importantly, had them write it down, to bring home the point that especially in a value-added foods sense, record keeping is largely important.

Then Omar led the class through several activities, including a fun dice game and a quiz to test their knowledge of food safety terms. The games were used to review important food safety facts, demonstrate the difference between risks and hazards, and further instill the importance of record keeping.

Class members broke into groups to develop imaginary production plans for certain products. Some of the products included butchered chicken and beef jerky. They discussed labeling, product descriptions, and made production flow charts. Omar shared with the class that he won’t even meet with clients to assist them in their Value Added business unless they’ve created their own production flow chart. Omar shared his musical skills with the class as well, and played them the same piece on his guitar twice, once with them facing him at the beginning of the class, and once with their backs turned at the end of the class. He had them record two words that they felt described the piece. This was another exercise in recording and perception.

Thanks to their day with Omar, students learned useful tools to be applied to their independent projects and their future value-added processing dreams.

Filed Under: Blog Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems

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