Guidelines for a Food Safety Minor at North Carolina State University

Academic Requirements
Organization of the Food Safety Minor


In recent years, there has been a growing understanding of the global dimension of the food safety issue and its tremendous complexity. People, the foods they eat and foodborne diseases travel today as never before. Changes in food production and storage, shipping and handling, dietary habits and lifestyles have elevated food safety concerns to international significance. Issues impacting food safety are broad and include concerns ranging from water quality to the application of pesticides, or genetic modifications of plants and animals to natural plant toxins. The value of food trade has risen more than 300% in the last two decades; currently 75% of all fruits and vegetables are imported. It is estimated that between 6.5 and 33 million cases of foodborne disease occur annually in the United States. Foodborne disease costs approximately $9 billion a year in medical expenses and lost productivity.

In order to successfully address the complexities associated with food safety, the National Research Council (1996) cited the need for a farm-to-table systems approach, a multidisciplinary perspective and a larger food safety work force. Currently, all academic training in food safety focuses on disciplinary specialities. However, a new kind of professional is needed, one with knowledge of the entire food safety continuum. These professionals will be broadly trained in the sciences associated with food safety, including microbiology, epidemiology, quantitative risk assessment, environmental health practices, social sciences, as well as animal and agronomic production practices.

In order to prepare professionals with the breadth of training necessary to understand and address food safety challenges, NC State University will develop an interdisciplinary graduate minor in food safety. The interdisciplinary and minor will include departments in the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Veterinary Medicine as well as the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The primary purpose of the proposed graduate minor is to provide a structured training program in the sciences impacting food safety. An additional benefit will be increased interactions of faculty members in the disciplines associated with food safety.


The major objectives of the Food Safety Minor will be:

  1. To foster and guide a graduate minor in food safety so that students may systematically pursue formal course training and conduct research in areas associated with food safety.

  2. To facilitate interactions among faculty members from various departments who share interest in food safety.

  3. To enhance graduate level food safety course offerings through cooperative development and review among the participating departments.

Academic Requirements

Graduate students participating in the Food Safety Minor will be required to have, or develop during the early part of their training, appropriate knowledge in the basic scientific disciplines of chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology. Further, it is highly desirable that formal course training in genetics and statistics be, or become, evident in each student’s academic record. Although selection of academic courses for the plan of work is the primary responsibility of the graduate student’s advisory committee, such committees should consider the aforementioned requirements and recommendations. Additionally, the committees should select from among the core courses indicated below for all M.S. and Ph.D. students in the Food Safety program. Graduate students minoring in Food Safety will be required to submit a plan of work that satisfies, at a minimum, the indicated requirements for core courses.

Up to 9 credit hours (Graduate school maximum) of course work equivalent to graduate level instruction that has been completed at other universities may be accepted in lieu of core or ancillary courses and the areas of required or recommended training summarized at the beginning of this section. Such acceptance of credit transfer shall be contingent upon meeting all requirements and policies of the Graduate School and on the recommendation by the graduate student’s advisory committee and approval by the Coordinator of the Food Safety Minor.

The course requirements for graduate students in the Food Safety Minor encompassed in the following sections are based primarily on current courses. As the program develops, changes may be made in the content of existing courses, and new courses may be developed. Therefore, program requirements may be modified to reflect the dynamics associated with course offerings.

  1. Core Courses
    1. Pre-harvest Food Safety (FSA 520, 3 credits)

      Participants will study all of the major food production systems in animals and plants. The animal component will consist of 5 modules covering dairy, beef, swine, poultry, and seafood. Topics included in each module will include government regulation of the food animal products, and use of the antimicrobials in food animal production and the emergence of resistant human pathogens. Epidemiology and control of major recognized foodborne pathogens will be emphasized in the course. The plant component will cover the production and harvest of field, fruit and vegetables crops. Student will study natural and chemical hazards in food plants, including pesticide residues, and the philosophy or organic farming and the public’s perception of biotechnology applications in food.

    2. Post-harvest Food Safety (FSA 530, 3 credits)

      This course covers the relationship of post-harvest handling of agricultural commodities and food products to food safety. It also provides background on the current issues and developments associated with post-harvest food safety, including the biological, chemical and physical food safety hazards. Additionally, regulations governing food safety will be discussed as will the role of consumer perceptions.

    3. Food Safety and Public Health (FSA 540, 3 credits)

      This course will cover issues and developments related to the relationship between food safety and public health, including emerging foodborne pathogens; virulence and pathogenicity; foodborne toxins; epidemiological techniques used in the investigation of foodborne disease; rapid detection methods; and quantitative microbial risk assessment in food safety.

    4. Professional Development and Ethics in Food Safety Seminar (FSA 580, 1 credit)

      A one-credit professional development and ethics seminar will be required. This course will focus specifically on professional development and ethics issues related to food safety will be scheduled during the fall and spring semesters. While the course can be taken for credit just once, regular attendance by participants in the Food Safety Minor will be highly encouraged This seminar will be integrative of all departments and disciplines.

  2. Requirements for a Food Safety Minor

    1. Masters Degree (10 credits)
      Students in a masters program are required to have 10 credits from the core courses, to earn the food safety minor.

    2. Doctoral Degree (unspecified)
      Students in a doctoral program would be required to have, as a minium, 10 credits from the core courses. The actual number of courses (credits) required is dependent on the courses previously completed during the master’s program either at NCSU or another institution. The additional courses should be related to the disciplines/programs associated with food safety. Examples of courses that could serve as ancillary courses for doctoral students minoring in food safety are shown below.

    3. Ancillary Courses (Examples)

Course Number Title Credit Hours
Animal Sciences (NCSU)
ANSC 700 Advanced Ruminant Nutrition 3
ANSC 702 Reproductive Physiology of Mammals 3
ANSC 710 Advanced Livestock Management 3
ANSC 720 Livestock Production in Warm Climates 3
ANSC 764 Comparative Physiology of the Digestive System 3
ANSC 775 Mineral Metabolism 3
ANSC 780 Mammalian Endocrinology 3
Biological and Agricultural Engineering (NCSU)
BAE 501 Instrumentation & Control for Biological Systems 3
BAE 752 Mechanics of Biological Materials 3
BAE 578 Agricultural Waste Management 3
BAE 780 Transport & Fate of Chemicals in Soils & Natural Waters 3
MB 714 Microbial Metabolic Regulation (NCSU) 3
MB 718 Introductory Virology (NCSU) 3
MB (IMM) 751 Immunology (NCSU) 3
MB (GN) 758 Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics (NCSU) 3
MB 790X Molecular Mechanisms of Pathogenesis (NCSU) 3
ENT 790X BioSystematics (NCSU) 3
ENVR 134 Ecological Microbiology (UNC-CH) 3
ENVR 195 Environmental Health Microbiology (UNC-CH) 3
TOX 701 General Toxicology (NCSU) 3
TOX 710 Biochemical Toxicology (NCSU) 3
TOX 715 Environmental Toxicology (NCSU) 3
TOX 721 Chemical Carcinogenesis (NCSU) 1
TOX 704 Chemical Risk Assessment (NCSU) 1
TOX (IMM) 705 Immunotoxicology (NCSU) 2
TOX (BCH) 660 Free Radicals in Toxicology (NCSU) 1
ENVR 193 Biochemical Toxicology (UNC-CH) 3
ENVR 291 Principles of Chemical Carcinogenesis (UNC-CH) 2
ENVR 292 Molecular Approaches to Environmental Tox. (UNC) 3
ENVR 293 Advanced Toxicology (UNC-CH) 3
Comparative Biomedical Sciences [previously Veterinary Medical Sciences] (NCSU)
CBS 750 Veterinary Medical Virology I 2
CBS 751 Pathogenic Bacteriology and Mycology 3
CBS 752 Diagnostic Bacteriology and Mycology 3
CBS 754 Principles of Analytical Epidemiology 3
CBS (IMM) 755 Immunoparasitology 2
CBS (IMM) 756 Immunogenetics 3
CBS 780 Veterinary Production Epidemiology 2
CBS 861 Bacterial Pathogenic Mechanisms 2
CBS 771 Veterinary Medical Virology II 3
CBS (MB) 783 Advanced Immunology 3
CBS 774 Epidemiol. Infect. Dis. of Internat. Importance 3
Genetics and Biotechnology (NCSU)
GN 701 Molecular Genetics 3
GN 702 Cellular and Developmental Genetics 3
GN 703 Population and Quantitative Genetics 3
GN (ST) 721 Genetic Data Analysis 3
GN (ST) 770 Statistical Concepts in Genetics 3
GN (ST) 726 Advanced Topics in Quantitative Genetics 3
GN 755 Population Genetics 3
GN 756 Computational Molecular Evolution 3
GN (BCH) 768 Nucleic Acids: Structure and Function 3
GN (MB) 760 Experimental Microbial Genetics 3
BCH 553 Metabolism and Molecular Biology 3
BCM 701 Macromolecular Structure 3
BCM 703 Macromolecular Synthesis and Regulation 3
BIT 810 Core Technologies 4
BIT 815A-P Advanced Biotechnology Special Topics 1
Epidemiology (UNC-CH)
EPID 120 Infect. Dis. Epid. and Health of the Public 3
EPID 160 Principles of Epidemiology 3
EPID 213 Epidemiologic Surveillance in Public Health 3
EPID 215 Public Health Microbiology 4
EPID 218 Intro. to Methods in Infect. Dis. Epid 3
EPID 220 Behavioral Epidemiology 3
EPID 226 Control of Inf. Dis. in Develop. Countries 3
EPID 200 Molecular Epidemiology 4
EPID 266 Epidemiologic Investigation 3
EPID 368 Epidemiology and Health Policy 3
BIOS 168 Design of Public Health Studies 3
HBHE 131 Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health 2
HBHE 253 Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods 3
HBHE 254 Instrument Development 3
Plant Pathology (NCSU)
PP 730 Fungal Genetics & Physiology 3
Statistics/Risk Assessment/Analysis
ST 511 Exp. Statistics for Biological Sciences I (NCSU) 3
BIOS 110 Principles of Statistical Inference (UNC-CH) 3
ST 512 Exp. Statistics for Biological Sciences I (NCSU) 3
BIOS 145 Principles of Experimental Analysis (UNC-CH) 3
ST 421 Introduction to Mathematical Statistics I (NCSU) 3
BIOS 160 Probability and Statistical Inference I (UNC-CH) 3
ST 422 Introduction to Mathematical Statistics I (NCSU) 3
BIOS 161 Probability and Statistical Inference II (UNC-CH) 3
ST 744 Categorical and Censored Data Analysis (NCSU) 3
BIOS 162 Introductory Applied Statistics (UNC-CH) 3
BIOS 170 Demographic Techniques (UNC-CH) 3
BIOS 213 Data Management in Biostatistics (UNC-CH) 3
BIOS 231 Bayesian Statistics (UNC-CH) 3
BIOS 277 Mathematical Models in Demography (UNC-CH) 3
ENVR 158 Mathematical Methods of Envr. Modeling (UNC-CH) 3
ENVR 159 Analytic Thought and Environmental Risk (UNC-CH) 3
ENVR 200 Microbial Risk Assessment (UNC-CH) 3
ENVR 246 Advanced Methods of Exposure Assessment (UNC-CH) 3
ENVR 252 Environmental Risk Assessment (UNC-CH) 3
ENVR (PPA) 253 Environmental Policy Analysis (UNC-CH) 3
ENVR 258 Analysis for Risk Management (UNC-CH) 3
Food Science
FS 704 Food Proteins and Enzymes 3
FS 709 Food Lipids 3
FS 705 Physical and Chemical Properties of Muscle Foods 3
FS 706 Vitamin Metabolism 2
FS 730 Human Nutrition 3
FS 751 Food Ingredient Technology in Product Development 4
FS 780 Food Kinetics 3
FS 785 Food Rheology 3
FS 753 Food Laws and Regulations 3
FS 725 Fermentation Microbiology 3
FS 790X Food Biotechnology 3

Organization of the Food Safety Minor

Faculty Membership

The Food Safety Minor shall include as members those faculty whose major interest and program activity are related to food safety issues. In order to qualify as a member of the Food Safety Faculty, a prospective member must be an associate or full member of the Graduate Faculty and fulfill the following two requirements:

  1. Received an advanced degree in a discipline associated with the food safety sciences: microbiology, food science, toxicology, epidemiology, public health, veterinary medicine, biological engineering, social sciences, plant pathology, agronomic or animal production.
  2. Conducting teaching, research, or extension activities with content and/or emphasis directly associated with food safety.

Initially, individual core faculty members will be recommended for appointment to the Food Safety Faculty by the Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Dean of Veterinary Medicine, and the Dean of the School of Public Health at UNC-CH and will be appointed by the Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Graduate School at NC State. Subsequently, new members will apply for appointment, with applications evaluated by an ad hoc Screening Committee appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School at NC State. Applications shall include information relevant to academic training and professional activities (teaching, research, and extension) for the past five years that are germane to food safety. New member applications will be available for review by the Food Safety Faculty and must be approved by a majority of the Food Safety Faculty via a written secret ballot prior to a recommendation to the Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Graduate School for appointment to the faculty. Each faculty member will be appointed for a five year term, and will be required to maintain active participation in teaching, research, and/or extension programs related to food safety in order to be reappointed by the Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Graduate School for subsequent five-year terms.

Recognizing the interdisciplinary and inter-institutional dimensions of food safety, it is anticipated that faculty from other academic institutions will be an integral part of the Food Safety Minor and therefore the Food Safety Faculty. Where appropriate, these faculty will be offered adjunct appointments and admission to the Graduate Faculty according to university policies specified in the NCSU Faculty Handbook.

Adjunct Faculty
There are a number of highly qualified professionals employed by industry, government, and other private organizations that possess knowledge and skills that are relevant to food safety. On submission of application materials, followed by a review and balloting by the Food Safety Faculty, an adjunct appointment can be offered to appropriate persons following the procedures outlined in the faculty handbook.

Coordinator of the Food Safety Minor

  1. Appointment

    A Coordinator of the Food Safety Minor will be selected by mutual agreement of the Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Graduate School. Such selections will be from a list of three Food Safety Faculty members to be nominated by majority vote of the Food Safety Faculty. Each Coordinator shall serve a term of three years, and is eligible for reappointment to consecutive terms.

  2. Responsibilities

    1. Provide liaison for the Food Safety Faculty with the Deans, Directors, and Heads for participating departments.

    2. Administer official student transactions pertaining to the Graduate School that include:

      1. The screening of all applications to the Food Safety Minor in consultation with at least one other member of the program’s faculty, and recommend action on the admission of applicants to the program.

      2. Forward recommendations for membership of a student’s advisory committee through appropriate channels.

      3. Review and approve each student’s plan of work to ensure that requirements for formal course work will be met. Maintain a file copy for all program participants.

      4. Facilitate and handle communications and correspondence related to the Food Safety Minor, including curriculum and seminars.

      5. Foster and maintain communication with, and among, graduate students, program faculty, the executive committee, Heads of the participating departments, Deans of participating colleges, university administration, and others as deemed appropriate to the development and progress of the program.

      6. Develop and maintain files, records, and other materials related to the program.

      7. Appoint ad hoc committees to assist in the development and implementation of teaching programs, seminars, special functions, and policies.

      8. Convene the Food Safety Faculty as necessary, but at least once during each regular semester, in order to:

        1. Report to faculty on the status of the program as well as current and planned activities.

        2. Consider any proposed policy changes.

        8. Plan and develop, through collaboration with the Executive Committee and other Food Safety Faculty members, proposals for grants and/or other activities that will foster excellence in the Food Safety Minor.

        9. Prepare an Annual Report, for distribution to Food Safety Faculty and administrators, on activities of the Food Safety Minor.

Executive Committee

Membership and Organization - The size of the Executive Committee is dependent on the number of departments represented by the Food Safety Faculty. Each department representative will be selected by the Food Safety Faculty from that department. Members of the Executive Committee will normally serve three year terms, except initially, where initial appointments will vary in length in order to ensure staggered terms.

An Executive Committee will be established and will be comprised of:

  1. a. The Coordinator, who will serve as Chair

  2. b. One Food Safety Faculty member from each of the participating departments


  1. Advise Coordinator.

  2. Liaison with participating departments.

  3. Promote the development and implementation of the Food Safety Minor and its integration into the programs of the participating departments.

  4. Conduct timely reviews of the curriculum as well as current an proposed courses.

  5. Provide advice and assistance to the Coordinator in planning and developing proposals for grants and other program activities.

Summary of Operational Procedures

  1. Prospective graduate students in the Food Safety Minor must apply to, and meet all admission requirements of, the respective departments. Graduate students in the Food Safety Minor will affiliate in a manner customary for the departments of their major professors, and any degree(s) subsequently awarded will be credited to the respective participating department. Graduate student affiliation with the Food Safety Minor is through their major professor or a committee member, who must be a member of the Food Safety Faculty. In addition to specific departmental requirements, students seeking a minor in Food Safety must meet the course requirements of this program.

  2. Committees of students minoring in Food Safety shall have at least one member from the Food Safety Faculty. The membership of such advisory committees shall be approved by the Head or Graduate Administrator of the student’s department with consultation from the Food Safety Coordinator.

  3. The “Plan of Graduate Work” for each student in the Food Safety the Food Safety Minor must be reviewed and co-signed by the Head and/or Graduate Administrator of the relevant department and the Food Safety Coordinator.

  4. New courses will be proposed and developed from the various departments in the customary manner. It is anticipated that the Food Safety Faculty will initiate courses that will enhance the Food Safety and Minor offerings. The Executive Committee will review and approve courses recommended for inclusion in the Food Safety curriculum (core and ancillary courses).

  5. Any proposed changes in policies, organization and operating procedures of the Food Safety Minor shall not be implemented until concurrence is obtained from the Food Safety Faculty as well as approval by the Dean of the Graduate School, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.