Food-safety experts hold training for state food inspectors

Food-safety experts in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences recently conducted a week-long training workshop for nearly 100 food inspectors with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Dr. Catherine Cutter provides instruction to PDA inspectors during a week-long training.

Dr. Catherine Cutter provides instruction to PDA inspectors during a week-long training.

The goal, according to Bill Chirdon, director of the Agriculture Department's Bureau of Food Safety, was to "improve the inspectors' food-safety knowledge" so that they could better conduct inspections of food-manufacturing facilities.

"While many of these inspectors are well versed in conducting inspections of retail and food-service establishments, many have not had as much training with regard to the complexities  encountered in food-manufacturing plants," said Martin Bucknavage, senior extension associate, who coordinated the workshop with other experts in the university's Department of Food Science.

"Even for those with extensive backgrounds in commercial food processing, this training served as a good refresher," he said. "Department of Food Science faculty and outside experts covered a broad range of current food-safety topics."   

The Department of Agriculture contacted faculty members Luke LaBorde and Catherine Cutter to provide an in-depth training curriculum based upon the Department of Food Science's faculty research and extension work in the area of food safety and food processing.

Participants attended presentations on topics such as control of pathogens in processing environments, pest control and sanitary design. They also participated in laboratory classes on microbiological testing and process development. State officials were impressed by the quality of the instruction.

"It was great to work with instructors who have vast experience in solving industry food-safety problems," said Paul Onx, a state agriculture department sanitarian. "You can tell that they have been there and done that."