Iowa State University Hires New Extension Food Safety Specialist

Angela Laury

AMES, Iowa — Angela Laury will work with Iowa producers and manufacturers to promote food safety as the new food safety specialist for Iowa State University Extension. Laury began work in August as an assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and extension food safety specialist. She earned two degrees from Iowa State, a bachelor's degree in animal science in 2003 and a master's degree in meat science in 2006. Laury completed a doctorate at Texas Tech University in animal science, with an emphasis in food safety and microbiology. While in Texas, she worked on food safety issues with growers of vegetables, fruits and nuts as well as the meat industry. In her new position, which is 60 percent research and 40 percent extension, Laury will be working mainly with farmers and food manufacturers covering nearly every type of food that has food safety concerns and can make consumers sick. One of her first assignments is preparing to introduce food producers to the Food Safety Modernization Act, a new federal law designed to encourage food safety through preventive measures. Laury and Aubrey Mendonca, associate professor of food science and human nutrition, will be touring the state beginning in December meeting with food producers about the first stage of regulations and how to comply. There will be updates every three months over the four years the new law will be implemented. "The same principles apply for all those producing food, in general, and all food companies need to have those things in place no matter if the government's looking over your shoulder or not. It's just another step in ensuring that our food supply is safe," she said. Producers that have had food sales of $500,000 or more for the last three year are the first ones required to comply with the new provisions, but Laury said eventually smaller producers will be expected to follow the regulations. "There will be more accountability, more inspections and more fees, if producers are not in compliance. We want to make sure they're prepared and ready ahead of time," Laury said. The sessions are scheduled for: —Dec. 6, Iowa Western Community College, Atlantic, 6-7 p.m. —Dec. 7, Iowa State University, Ames, 6-7 p.m. —Dec. 8, Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, 6-7 p.m. —Dec. 9, webinar, noon-1 p.m. Laury also is studying the non-O157 STEC bacterium that was responsible for the sprout outbreak in Germany earlier this year and has been responsible for outbreaks in the United States, but not in Iowa. She is working to develop intervention strategies to against the bacterium. "It is more deadly than the E. coli 0157H7 that people hear about so much. It's not as common, but more deadly and causes more illness," she said.