Volunteer Stories

John Felsk


Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Middle East and North Africa

This article was originally written by Land O'Lakes International Development. 

Name: Josh Felsk

Current title/profession: Food Safety Inspector, Michigan Department of Agriculture

Current hometown: Lansing, Michigan

Areas of expertise: Food safety


Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Middle East and North Africa

Location of the project: Lebanon

Organization that sent the volunteer: Land O'Lakes International Development


Since 2014, Lebanon has been facing a food safety crisis with foodbourne illnesses on the rise. In order to maintain the health of citizens and ensure the safety of exported food products, the country needs to build the capacity of governmental food inspectors in food safety. In March 2016, Land O’Lakes International Development sent Josh Felsk, a Food Safety Inspector from the Michigan Department of Agriculture, to Lebanon through the US Agency for International Developmentfunded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program.

Control of food Safety in Lebanon is the responsibility of several governmental authorities, but the Ministry of Economy and Trade is in charge of all consumable products placed on the market, including food. While in Lebanon, Felsk worked closely with this ministry to raise the bar on food inspection. He trained inspectors on best practices in food examination, sampling, investigation techniques and other relevant topics.

Felsk shared his practical experience with more than a hundred food inspectors (36 males and 69 females) and 20 food business operators, building knowledge and skills for better performance and more efficient work output. Attendees learned about the Michigan State Food Safety Code, new inspection methods, and techniques that peers follow in the US, and were able to validate their own. Group work, open discussions and questions ensured an interactive and productive atmosphere.

Classroom training was just half of Felsk’s assignment. He also made field visits to more than four facilities, including a bakery, restaurant and two supermarkets where he was able to witness and compare different practices. Twenty inspectors (nine males and eleven females) joined Felsk for the first visits, which allowed them to have a more hands-on training with the expert. The Consumer Protection Directorate is pleased with the knowledge that Felsk was able to share and has requested similar follow-up assignments focusing on field visit trainings with US.-based expert volunteers.

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