The University of Minnesota School of Public Health, along with the Minnesota Department of Health, has been selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create a Food Safety Center of Excellence that will help prevent and respond to foodborne illnesses. The center will provide resources for state and local officials to improve food safety through better detection and investigation of outbreaks of foodborne illness.
Minnesota has long been regarded as a leader in food safety surveillance. Over the past several years, the state has made national headlines in the successful search for the sources of two major Salmonella outbreaks. The plan of action is unique in its thorough and rapid response.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called upon the Minnesota model to author the Food Safety Rapid Response Act with Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). The bill, passed into law in 2011 as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, established Food Safety Centers of Excellence.
“Minnesota has been a leader in the effort to improve food safety, and [this] announcement means that our state will continue to be on front lines in the fight to keep consumers safe,” Klobuchar said. “Ensuring a rapid response to outbreaks of contaminated food is critical to maintaining public trust in our food supply, and I will continue to work to improve the security of the food on our tables.”
All the centers, nationwide, strengthen the ability of federal, state, and local officials to investigate outbreaks using the procedures of the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and University of Minnesota School of Public Health as national models for improved food safety surveillance.
Minnesota’s Food Safety Center for Excellence will provide states with fewer resources support and training in conducting food safety surveillance and outbreak investigations. The center will also develop educational courses and programs to serve the broader public health, regulatory, and academic communities. The CDC awarded the Minnesota Department of Health $199,970 to help create the center.
“Because outbreak investigations are the only way to identify new food safety hazards, the centers will have an important role to play in rapidly identifying and effectively responding to these new threats,” said SPH professor and food safety expert Craig Hedberg.