Food Safety is food security

January 17, 2020

Haley OliverFoodborne illnesses affect 600 million people around the world each year, causing 420,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Children under the age of 5 are especially vulnerable, with more than 125,000 dying of foodborne illnesses annually.

Purdue University is now home to a lab aimed at increasing awareness of and developing environments for food safety around the world. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded nearly $10 million to Purdue to establish the first-ever Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety (FSIL), with the opportunity for up to $20 million in additional funding from USAID for research tailored to specific countries’ needs.

Haley Oliver, associate professor of food science, will direct the lab in collaboration with Cornell University. Scientists will develop programs to improve food safety in Bangladesh, Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal and Cambodia.

“To make an impact we need to build awareness and an understanding of what food safety is, so stakeholders are motivated to adopt behavior changes that result in decreased exposure to foodborne disease-causing agents,” Oliver says. “We will be working in developing economies that will benefit from food safety research at the household level; improved enabling conditions, such as policy; and technologies that support scale-up for producers and processors to reach higher value markets.”

Other Purdue faculty members in the lab include Paul Ebner, professor of animal sciences; Jacob Ricker-Gilbert, associate professor of agricultural economics; Amanda Deering, clinical assistant professor of food science; Hui-Hui Wang, assistant professor of agricultural sciences, education and communication; and Gerald Shively, associate dean and director of international programs.

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