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Development of “Cleaning and Sanitizing Farm Tools and Equipment”

Our team is pleased to announce our most recent digital educational outreach product, Cleaning and Sanitizing Farm Tools and Equipment, available in English and Spanish. These virtual labs guide users through cleaning and sanitizing procedures to minimize potential contamination from pathogenic microorganisms on surfaces such as tools and equipment, thereby reducing cross-contamination and the incidence of foodborne illnesses.

right side of image shows a woman with an apple in her hand. Left side of inage shows an arrow pointing to her apple, zooming in on all the germs. There are smaller images showing where the germs may have came from, a person, animals, dirt, and water.
Screenshot from the Overview animation

Proper sanitization is both best practice and a requirement of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. Covered farms must inspect, maintain, clean, and sometimes sanitize food contact surfaces, including tools and equipment, to protect against the contamination of covered produce. This educational outreach tool helps producers understand how, when, and why to to take these steps, as well as understanding the difference between cleaning and sanitizing, and how to test sanitizer concentrations.

Introductory animation

This short introduction explores the risks of farm tools and equipment transferring pathogens from humans, animals, soil, and water. It also explains why surfaces and tools must be first cleaned, and then sanitized, in order for sanitization to be effective.

Left side of screen shows the test strip lab module. on screen text reads: Test strip lab, Test strips are an easy and cost-effective option for monitoring various sanitizers. Try testing chlorine at concentrations needed to sanitize tools and equipment. right side of screen shows the titration lab module. On screen text reads: Titration Lab, Titration is a different but more precise way of monitoring sanitizer concentration used by some farm operations. While titration can test various sanitizers, this lab will monitor peroxyacetic acid (PAA).
How to Monitor Sanitizers modules

Test Strip Lab

The Test Strip lab leads the user through the process of testing chlorine concentrations for sanitizing tools and equipment.

Titration Lab

The Titration lab addresses the titration method of monitoring sanitizer concentrations, using peroxyacetic acid as an example.

Development process

The modules in this project were created using JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS. Each of the three labs were initially written as scripts with the content experts. Our production team iterated on the design with multiple tests of different layouts, user interfaces, and visual styles to find effective ways to present the content.

For instance, we tried several different ways of moving through the content, and finally landed on one that is straightforward, intuitive, and easily enables mouse, tap, and keyboard control.

An illustration of the character created to guide the user through the modules. The background is a landscape.
Farm Sanitization guide character

One interesting addition we made was to add a character to the virtual lab that takes you through the entire

process as a learning companion. She is on screen the entire time, and the lab content is written in a conversational style to make it feel like you're there with

someone training you, explaining the issues as you go in an approachable and friendly manner. You see her react to the things happening in the lab, so it brings a level of emotion to the lab, which increases engagement with the material.

We also added spot animation in several areas to add some visual interest or make clear what's happening in the scene. Animation is expensive, so there's an upper limit to how much we can add for a given project. But with clever setups and code-driven animation, we were able to add more animation than we expected.

The virtual labs are fully localized into both English and Spanish. We worked with a professional translator to get all of the virtual lab's content into both languages. This will help people using the lab learn in their native language, which improves comprehension and retention. That, in turn, will help ensure produce safety remains high for everyone!

This project was sponsored by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. New Mexico State University’s Innovative Media Research and Extension Department was responsible for design production.

Financial support for this educational resource was provided by the WSDA Food Safety Program, the WSDA Regional Markets Program, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Written by John “CC” Chamberlin, Lead Developer


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