The purpose of the current project is to provide M.S. Fellowships (three funded through this proposal and an additional two funded from matching institutional resources) for underrepresented students in poultry and poultry products food safety in the targeted expertise shortage area (TESA) #5-Food Science and Human Nutrition-Food Safety. The major academic program of the project is (F) Food Science / Technology / Manufacturing / Safety. The goal of the project is to graduate five M.S. Fellows from underrepresented groups prepared to meet the challenges of existing and emerging poultry food safety issues.
Major project objectives are a) to prepare Fellows proficient in core competence areas of poultry and poultry product food safety through existing curricula, research, and internship opportunities, and (b) to provide Fellows with organizational leadership and policy development training. <P>The expected output or anticipated impact of the project is five M.S. graduates from underrepresented groups who will have long term impacts on the quality and safety of poultry and poultry products entering the human food supply.
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: This proposal will address the Targeted Expertise Shortage Area (TESA#5) identified by the USDA in Food Science and Human Nutrition by specifically focusing on food safety. Never before has the safety of the food supply in the United States commanded more attention from consumers and state or federal food safety regulatory agencies than today. Since 2006, major Salmonella outbreaks traced back to peanut butter, tomatoes, breakfast cereals, cantaloupes, dry pet food, and pot pies have been major foci of epidemiological investigations. Two of these outbreaks, those involving peanut butter and tomatoes contaminated with Salmonella, received extensive national and international media coverage. While not implicated in these outbreaks, poultry and poultry products historically have been viewed as major vehicles for human food borne illness caused by the bacteria Salmonella and Campylobacter. Commercial poultry are considered among the largest reservoirs of both Salmonella and Campylobacter in all of animal agriculture. In order to meet the emerging challenges for ensuring and improving the safety of poultry and poultry products entering the human food supply, five M.S. students (three supported by this proposal and an additional two from matching institutional resources) will be trained through a specialized multidisciplinary program of graduate study in the Poultry Science Department (POSC) at Texas A&M University. POSC has a well established history in conducting responsive poultry food safety research. POSC faculty members (full-time, associate, and adjunct members) are active in identifying current trends and future needs related to improving the safety of poultry and poultry products entering the food supply. Graduating Fellows will receive a Master of Science in Poultry Science. The program is specifically designed to recruit, retain, graduate, and place M.S. students from underrepresented groups to meet the current and emerging challenges of maintaining and continuing to improve the safety of the food supply that is important to the health of the population of the U.S. The graduate program of POSC has a proven track record of preparing M.S graduates for careers in industry, federal government, or further graduate studies. The purpose of this training program is to graduate five M.S. Fellows from underrepresented groups well prepared to meet the challenges of existing and emerging poultry food safety issues.
APPROACH: This project centers on recruiting, retaining, graduating, and placing five Master of Science (M.S.) graduates (three supported by this proposal and an additional two from matching institutional resources) from underrepresented groups to meet new challenges in Food Science and Human Nutrition, specifically in Food Safety of Poultry and Poultry Products. The general plan for accomplishing the specific objectives and goal of this project will be to a) recruit five underrepresented Fellows, (b) provide Fellows with comprehensive academic and research programs, (c) provide Fellows with summer internship opportunities with nationally recognized food safety laboratories, (d) develop leadership and policy analysis skills in Fellows through participation with the Hispanic Leaders in Agriculture and the Environment (HLAE) program, and (e) establish advisory boards to ensure a successful program. Following the recruiting phase of this project, National Needs Fellows will be admitted to an M.S. program in the Department of Poultry Science (POSC) at Texas A&M University (TAMU). This program will engage the Fellows in independent research advised by faculty from within and outside POSC and summer internships at food safety research centers. They will join a cohort of other graduate Fellows in a multi-institutional leadership development program (HLAE). The Fellows will receive rigorous academic instruction and conduct basic and applied research on existing and emerging issues pertaining to poultry or poultry product food safety. At the same time, they will hone or develop leadership skills by participating in the HLAE program, a distinguishing amenity of this proposal. Existing research programs and curricula will allow the Fellows to become proficient in core competency areas of poultry and poultry products food safety, food safety microbiology, toxicology, hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) systems, food safety epidemiology, rapid pathogen detection technologies, as well as leadership and policy development. POSC is home to nationally and internationally recognized faculty members with research emphases in the areas of poultry food safety who will oversee the independent M.S. research projects of each Fellow. The anticipated output of the project is five M.S. graduates from underrepresented groups who will have long term impacts on the quality and safety of poultry and poultry products entering the human food supply.