Production of value-added foods is of growing interest to small-scale produce growers. However, previous studies reported that they lack sufficient food safety awareness and have limited knowledge of applicable food safety regulations. Targeted food safety education can help to address these challenges. This study used focus groups and a combination of web-based and printed surveys to evaluate growers’ attitudes toward and knowledge of value-added business and to assess their food safety education needs. A total of 136 Indiana produce growers participated in the study, including 38 focus group participants and 98 survey participants. Overall, growers were aware of the importance of food safety, with 78% of the survey participants agreeing strongly that food safety was a top priority in value-added businesses. Most survey participants (82%) self-reported being knowledgeable about food safety. Most were confident in their ability to run a successful value-added business. The top two barriers that hindered growers from learning about food safety were time limitations and an overwhelming amount of information. Growers preferred to receive additional educational materials on selling non-home-based vendor products, communication strategies with regulators and inspectors, and marketing strategies; they trusted the information from extension educators and university extension publications the most. This study guides the development of future food safety education programs for small-scale growers who are interested in establishing a value-added business.

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