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May 25, 2010

Training Food Safety Scientists

Collaboration: Public-private partnership gets underway to teach foreign governments and manufacturers about U.S. practices

Britt Erickson

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Waters Corp.
Waters scientists will play a role in developing curriculum for food safety training.

The University of Maryland and Waters Corp. have teamed up to establish the world's first facility dedicated to training international scientists about U.S. food safety standards and methods of analysis. The International Food Safety Training Laboratory is expected to open next year in College Park, Md., where it will be operated by the Joint Institute for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition, a partnership between the University of Maryland and the Food & Drug Administration.

Waters, a Massachusetts-based analytical instrument company, will fund the lab's construction and provide state-of-the-art equipment, Art Caputo, president of Waters, said at a briefing on May 21. The company will also help design the training programs, he noted.

"The task of ensuring food safety can only be accomplished through a comprehensive partnership," Caputo emphasized. "We are here with a solution to address the fundamental need to increase scientific capacity building worldwide."

The lab is intended to support FDA's food safety goals, particularly with respect to imports. "The U.S. annually imports more than $80 billion worth of food from more than 150 countries. Imports now account for about 15% of the total U.S. food supply, and have been increasing at a rate of 10% per year since 2002," Rohit Khanna, vice president of worldwide marketing at Waters, pointed out at the briefing.

FDA officials welcomed the initiative. "The establishment of this laboratory will allow FDA to accommodate many more requests for laboratory training from foreign officials on U.S. regulatory standards and requirements than our current resources allow," said Jeff Farrar, associate commissioner for food protection at FDA. And more training "will improve the safety of food for the American consumer," he stressed.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a trade group representing the food industry, also commended the partnership. "GMA strongly supports the concept of the International Food Safety Training Laboratory," said Bob Brackett, senior vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at GMA. "Establishment of the laboratory serves as a great example of collaboration and a means for advancing analytical capability both domestically and abroad."

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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