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USDA strengthens Georgia’s Food Safety System during COVID-19 pandemic
June 19, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Caucasus Agricultural Development Initiative, funded by the U.S Department of State, is assisting Georgia’s efforts to improve its food safety systems using distance coaching modules led by international food safety laboratory specialist Dr. Janie Dubois. Incorporating a risk-based food safety system has become increasingly important in Georgia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fundamentals of Risk Analysis is a 15-week distance coaching program designed to introduce the terminology and concepts used in risk analysis, emphasizing its application in food safety. The program sessions began on February 11th and continued for four weeks before being interrupted by onset of the pandemic. In response to the international logistical complications created by COVID-19, sessions were reworked and moved to the online platform Google classroom, where the first module was posted on April 21st, 2020. The entire series of program sessions will be delivered to the risk assessment team of the Scientific-Research Center of Agriculture (SRCA) by July 31, 2020.

Eight additional modules, pertaining to Laboratory Training in Food Safety, were also created under this project. The first Google classroom assignment was posted on May 13th and the modules are expected to last 18 weeks, until the end of November 2020. The program was initially intended for the State Laboratory of Agriculture; however, in response to increased interest, USDA decided to invite representatives of various state and private laboratories to participate in the program, as well. These efforts are helping the Georgian government to increase awareness of, and confidence in, science-based risk analysis principles and to improve Georgia’s national network of laboratories, which contribute to increased regional food security and adherence to international standards. These activities also serve to strengthen trade opportunities between the United States and Georgia.

This activity is part of the USDA project, “Improving World Trade Organization Sanitary and Phytosanitary Transparency in Georgia,” implemented by the Rural and Agricultural Policy and Development Institute (RAPDI).