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Getting serious about food safety - the FSSM intensive course in Armenia

I am Zara Danielyan, a senior student at Agribusiness Teaching Center of the International Center for Agribusiness Research and Education (ICARE) foundation and I had the privilege to participate in this hands-on intensive course.  

Thanks to USAID who funded the InnovATE Armenia project, this is the second year that the ICARE foundation jointly with Penn State University implemented the innovative Food Safety Systems Management (FSSM) course.

Food safety

Without food safety and sanitation, human health can be at risk. Foodborne illnesses from bacteria and other harmful contaminants can easily affect human health. Nutritional value is a very important thing in our life, but food safety is essential for our health.   

This four-week course of FSSM taught us the basic concepts of Food Safety in a short period of time. There are specific steps that should be followed to make sure our food is protected during handling. We started to master all the microbiological terms, as well as the types of bacteria. Also, we learned about sanitation measures that are needed to ensure that any facility surface or equipment that comes in contact with food is properly cleaned, sanitized and maintained. We learned to detect allergens. But for me, the most important and interesting part of  the training course was the proper washing of hands. And then, we have thoroughly studied Canned Foods with all its features. It was very interesting to learn that the first pasteurization was done back in 1860 by Louis Pasteur.

The lessons were also delicious

We learned to prepare beef jerky with the right amount of salt, marinades, pH and other parameters. We prepared delicious pizzas, salsa sauce and strawberry jam. We were given the unique chance to visit food processing companies in Armenia and to investigate how food safety standards are kept in these companies.

I was especially interested in this course since previously I was doing my internship at Food Safety department of Center for Agribusiness and Rural Development (CARD) Foundation. I gained practical knowledge during the internship and the theoretical part of the course was a perfect match to it.

Food safety standards in Armenia are still not satisfying and once I have graduated I am very motivated to contribute to making this system operate better.

Picture credit: Zara Danielyan