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New initiative aims at safer food imports -- at the source, not our border
Date:5/21/2010

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Imports represent about 15 percent of the total U.S. food supply. But, Meng notes that the figure is much higher in the case of certain commodities. For example, over 80 percent of shrimp sold in the United States is imported. More than one-third of fresh produce is imported, mainly from Latin America.

As an example of the risks of food contamination, Meng points to a 2008 outbreak of salmonella that sickened more than 1,400 people, traced back to conditions at a Mexican pepper farm. Another is the 2008 scandal involving Chinese milk and infant formula, which had been adulterated with melamine. Several babies died and 300,000 people in China got sick.

NEED FOR HANDS-ON TRAINING

"This initiative stresses a hands-on approach to building scientific capacity," says Paul Mazzocchi, JIFSAN's associate director. "Trainees will be put through intensive programs practicing FDA-recommended protocols and operating actual lab equipment. It's a unique and cost-effective way to build foreign capacity quickly." http://www.life.umd.edu/grad/MLfsc/PMazzocchi%20CV.pdf

The demand for expertise especially the hands-on variety far outstrips current technical capacity in many countries, driven in part by U.S. importers and retailers seeking safety assurances. IFSTL is a response to this growing need for training, "the capstone of JIFSAN's international food safety training programs," as Mazzocchi puts it.

"The University of Maryland is very excited about this innovative partnership through the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition," says President C. D. Mote, Jr. "This collaboration is a superb example of how the public and private sectors can maximize their impact by combining their strengths. The new programs have excellent potential for improving food safety internationally."

"Waters Corporation is committed to bridging the gap be
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Contact: Neil Tickner
ntickner@umd.edu
301-405-4622
University of Maryland
Source:Eurekalert  

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