FSIS Establishes New Institute to Promote Food Safety Education in the Americas

by 5m Editor
4 August 2004, at 12:00am

WASHINGTON, DC - USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elsa Murano today announced the establishment of the Food Safety Institute of the Americas, a cooperative educational and research organization designed to promote food safety and identify and develop educational programs throughout the Americas.

Murano said the institute demonstrates the commitment of Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman to improving public health throughout the hemisphere by making meat, poultry and egg products safer.

"Secretary Veneman challenged us to think broadly when it comes to improved food safety standards," Murano said. "This institute will become a forum for scientific discussion and educational opportunities for government and industry in all countries to improve the safety of imported and exported meat, poultry and egg products."

Murano has worked hard to improve food safety programs in the Western Hemisphere since being named to her post in the fall of 2001. Through speeches and personal contacts, she has worked to convince governments to raise the level of food safety and to become active participants in international food standard setting bodies like the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

In June, Murano signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pan American Health Organization to improve the safety of meat and poultry products that are traded among the nations of the Western Hemisphere.

The establishment of the Institute was also one of the goals listed in the recently released "Fulfilling the Vision: Initiatives in Protecting Public Health," a document that reviews recent successes and builds on the course the Bush Administration set last year to improve the prediction and response to food safety challenges and further reduce the rate of foodborne illness.

Murano said that many organizations-academic, governmental and nongovernmental-will be active partners in the FSIA. Food safety subject matter areas like public health, food security, Codex and animal and food production will be grouped into "colleges and departments" within the FSIA and entrusted to centers of academic expertise. The FSIA will also tap into existing networks of universities and organizations within North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

"We want to bring people together and incorporate the best existing training and education programs available to promote efficiency and avoid duplication," Murano said. "By using existing expertise, we can place a greater emphasis on developing materials to fill gaps in food safety education and information."

The Food Safety Institute of the Americas will be located in Miami, Florida, which is recognized as the gateway to the Americas. This location will enhance the institute's ability to bring together experts quickly and to develop and carry out programs efficiently.

Linda Swacina, presently deputy administrator of FSIS, will serve as the senior agency representative and federal coordinator of all FSIA activities. Ms. Swacina, who holds degrees in Spanish and Latin American studies, has traveled extensively throughout Central and South America on behalf of FSIS food safety programs and has extensive experience and understanding of international food safety standard setting activities.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service - 3rd August 2004

5m Editor