Webinar trains food entrepreneurs in following Cottage Food Law

Michigan’s Cottage Food Law, enacted in 2010, allows individuals to manufacture and store certain types of foods in an unlicensed home kitchen. It’s intended to support farmers markets by allowing certain value-added products to be sold without the expense and trouble of preparing them in a licensed commercial kitchen.

 The Michigan State University Extension Food Safety Team made a teaching webinar in order to meet the needs of Michigan residents in relationship to food safety pertaining to the Cottage Food Law. The webinar was the most efficient and consistent way of providing educational information to this audience. Led by food safety co-chairs and Extension educators Jeannie Nichols and Jan Seitz, the Food Safety team members include Jennifer Berkey, Robin Danto, Diana Fair, Eileen Haraminac, Jane Hart, Linda Huyck, Pat Joyce, Joyce McGarry, Laurie Messing, Lucia Patritto, Janet Rathke, Christy Rivette, Phil Tocco, Lisa Treiber, Chris Venema and Beth Waitrovich.

 Jeannie stated, “For us as educators, it meant learning about developing a professional, interactive and interesting site.”

 The team developed “MI Cottage Food Law Food Safety Training/Webinar” with support from Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications team members Laura Probyn, Steve Evans and Kraig Ehm. Laura edited and revised the initial script. Laura and Kraig voiced the project, and Steve edited the PowerPoint that was the basis for the webinar and built quiz and evaluation modules for the project.

 According to Jeannie, the quiz at the end of the webinar evaluates the knowledge that participants gain as well as their intent to use the information from the webinar. Once a participant completes the quiz with 70 percent accuracy, he or she can purchase a certificate to display at a farmers market booth. Farmers markets customers would then see that the vendor had taken the initiative to take some extra food safety training in relation to cottage foods.

 Food Safety Team members conducted face-to-face presentations throughout the state using the curriculum to validate its content and usefulness before it was made available online. To help with this project, the team applied for and received a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) grant that allowed the production of this webinar including marketing materials.

 You can view the webinar here: http://vimeo.com/24282676

 Plans are underway to add the webinar to the governor’s weekly video feature rotation and to be placed on the MDARD’s YouTube channel.

 This is a great illustration of what the new MSUE is all about and how we’re embracing technology to achieve our mission. And it shows the interlinkage among work teams and institutes. Some of the greatest demand for the webinar is likely to come from individuals and businesses who sell homemade products at farmers markets, which are among the assets that we try to support through the community food systems group in the Greening Michigan Institute.

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