Impact Washington Joins MEP Centers in Idaho and Montana in Effort to Broaden Food Safety Resources, and Partnership hires Jolene Cram to Lead Collaboration

As a result of a new partnership that includes Impact Washington and related manufacturing outreach services in Idaho and Montana, Washington food and beverage producers now have access to a wider set of resources for complying with safety regulations.

The partnership, which includes Idaho’s TechHelp and the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC), is an initiative of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Network that includes Impact Washington and manufacturing outreach centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.  The three centers worked together to develop a collaboration to better serve the region’s food producers, especially small and medium-sized businesses, according to MMEC Director Paddy Fleming.

“Food safety covers such a broad range of issues that it’s almost impossible for one person to be an expert in everything,” Fleming said. “With our combined resources, we’re able to cover pretty much any issue that any food manufacturer in these states would have.”

Jolene Cram has been hired to assist in connecting food processors with food safety specialists in all three states. Jolene who has more than 20 years in the food industry, has been selected as the food safety project manager for the multi-state initiative. The goal of the program is to streamline the process of connecting with the best food safety resources, which include trainings and one-on-one consulting, she said.

“Working together, we’ve already been able to serve more people, faster,” said Cram, who is based in Boise. The partnership has been going about three months, she said.

Having worked for food producers like the Kraft Heinz Company, Cram said she knows that it can be a challenge to meet food safety standards, such as the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s latest framework for regulating how food is grown, harvested and processed. The goal of the regulations is to prevent foodborne diseases and other potential hazards.

The law went into effect in 2015, and now the FDA is starting to conduct inspections of smaller producers, Cram noted. “We’re here to help, not police. If food producers have gaps in meeting safety needs, we can help them find solutions.”

“This collaboration puts clients needs first and makes food specialists and resources more accessible to food processors in all three states, “said Craig Doan, Chief Food Scientist for Impact Washington. Craig has 30+ years in the food industry and academics specializing in food safety, food processing, and food product innovation.

If a Washington food processor wants assistance with meeting FSMA requirements, the best thing to do is contact me or Craig, Cram said. “We can help point them in the right direction.”

Contact: Jolene Cram, jolene.cram@montana.edu or Craig Doan, Cdoan@impactwashingon.org

For a schedule of upcoming FSMA events in Washington, Idaho or Montana please visit our events page

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