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UT Institute of Agriculture to develop national training program for produce food safety

September 16, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Center for Agriculture and Food Security and Preparedness (CAFSP) at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture's College of Veterinary Medicine announced it has received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The center will play a key role in supporting implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) signed into law in 2011.

Over the next year, CAFSP, under the direction of Dr. Sharon Thompson, will develop a food safety training program for the nation's food inspectors to support inspections of produce farms to evaluate the adoption of new FSMA requirements as they are implemented. FSMA requirements are intended to reduce the occurrence of foodborne outbreaks linked to both domestic and international produce farms. FSMA aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to finding effective prevention methods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne illnesses.

"We are partnering with New Mexico State University on our development of this training program and have assembled a strong team with experience in produce safety, instructional design and performance assessment," Thompson says. "I am pleased that we have been given the opportunity to support FDA in this critically important endeavor that will enhance food safety in the U.S."

In addition to developing an application for smart phones and tablets, the center will develop several online and in-person courses designed to train food safety inspectors from federal, state, local territorial, and tribal agencies.

CAFSP has developed a strong foundation and reputation for producing results. Since its inception in 2006, CAFSP has been continually funded, having administered over $18.1 million in competitively awarded grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FDA, as well as state and local government agencies to support the development and delivery of high quality national training programs for adult learners in the work force.

"This award puts the College of Veterinary Medicine and the UT Institute of Agriculture at the forefront of an important national and international issue," said Dr. Larry Arrington, chancellor of the UT Institute of Agriculture. "Food and its safety impact us all. So to be leading the effort in preventing deadly foodborne illnesses is another example of how we fulfill our mission as a land-grant university."
The center is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the safety of agriculture and the food supply through the conduct of investigation and research, and through the provision of high quality educational and training programs. Visit to learn more about the center.

Through its mission of research, teaching and service the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.

University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

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