of safety issues...
Bringing food products from farm and sea to table requires diligence on the part of all those whose job it is to produce safe and healthy food and to protect the environment in the process. This Winter 2000 issue of Perspectives reports on the College’s research, extension and teaching activities to ensure safe practices and provide assistance in compliance with government regulations to those sharing responsibility along the production, processing and utilization chain: farmers and processors who must follow animal health guidelines, adhere to regulations in applying plant protection chemicals and perform point of control practices in handling and processing food products; and consumers, whose increased knowledge of safe food handling and nutritional practices can keep them alert to prevention of foodborne illness.
Concerns about foodborne illness were in the news last fall when tainted meat was found at several North Carolina businesses, pointing to the need for better food-handling practices. The feature "Healthy Process" outlines some of the teaching, research and extension activities in the College to help minimize the potential health and economic impacts of food-related illness throughout the chain of meat production, processing and preparation. Another feature article, "Critical Control," then specifically relates the work of N.C. State University’s seafood laboratory in educating the state’s seafood processors in compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) food-safety system regulations.
You’ll also learn, in the news section, how students can access the latest research and regulatory developments in food safety via Dr. Pat Curtis’ on-line food science course, Food Law and Regulations.
In the feature "Good Coordination," you will read about the Poultry Coordinating Committee, a multidisciplinary team of Extension field faculty and poultry specialists that educates growers and integrators in Best Management Practices (BMPs). The committee’s work is especially timely as increased vertical integration of the poultry industry has called for more assistance along the continuum of the production cycle and into the food-safety arena, from pre-harvest to post-harvest. On the campus front, committee members are slated to teach sections of a three-part graduate course in food safety that is evolving out of the needs of the food-producing industry.
Research in the College is helping to address gaps or needs arising from regulatory decisions made by the Environmental Protection Agency based on the Food Quality Protection Act. The FQPA, passed by U.S. Congress in 1996, mandates a single health-based standard for pesticides in all foods, provides special protections for children, expedites approval of safer pesticides, creates incentives for the development of effective crop protection tools for American farmers and requires periodic re-evaluation of pesticide registrations and tolerances.
As it assesses the risks of various pesticides and determines residue tolerances, the EPA is to consider the actual exposure to residues on various foods and the percent of a crop treated with a particular pesticide. This Perspectives reports on the work of College faculty members to assist EPA policy makers in this area by developing crop profiles that describe how pesticides are used in North Carolina, as well as our planned field research to evaluate the new classes of chemicals that will come along to protect fruits and vegetables.
Food safety and nutrition for the consumer have been for 30 years the focus of North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Program. This issue shows how EFNEP provides nutritional education for North Carolinians with limited resources, targeting not only adults who prepare food, but also pregnant teens and nursing mothers.
Cooperative Extension continually offers programs to increase the safety of the farm practices that produce the food. The work of the College in devising strategies for helping farmers and their families stay safe in the face of hazards posed by machinery and toxic chemicals is the subject of the feature "Precautionary Measures."
In all of these safety-themed articles, you will learn about the ongoing role of the College: to identify additional methodologies that will be benign to human health and to the environment.
James L. Oblinger