Food Safety Institute Created at Iowa State University

November 15th, 2002

AMES, Iowa — The new Institute for Food Safety and Security at Iowa State University is dedicated to protecting Iowa's, and the nation's, investment in agriculture.

"The formation of this institute will enhance Iowa State's leadership role in the critical area of food safety and security. Excellence in education and research associated with food production and delivery is one of our top priorities," said Gregory Geoffroy, president of Iowa State.

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, Thursday, Nov. 14, approved the institute. Faculty and researchers from the colleges of agriculture, family and consumer sciences, liberal arts and sciences, and veterinary medicine will be affiliated with the institute.

"The institute will serve the needs of farmers, producers, food preparers and consumers to control serious food-borne infectious diseases, to prevent contamination of food and water by toxins and to protect plants and animals from the threat of cataclysmic disease," said Catherine Woteki, dean of the College of Agriculture and interim director of the institute. Woteki formerly served as the U.S. Department of Agriculture under secretary for food safety.

Woteki said the institute's first task will be to find a nationally recognized scientist as director.

The institute will oversee seven units to respond to food problems and issues:
Food-borne Infectious Disease Unit
Food and Water — Harvest Unit
Food and Water — Post-Harvest Unit
Foodservice and Retail Unit
Society, Communication and Public Policy Unit
Food-borne Disease Models and Risk Analysis Unit
International Food Security Unit
The institute's units will develop strategic research and training programs that address problems of human health risks and issues that arise from globalization, intensification of production agriculture, food processing, global warming/environmental changes and the threat of agro-terrorism. The director of the institute will manage it through a council composed of representatives from each unit.

Jim Dickson, director of Iowa State's component of a three-university Food Safety Consortium and chair of the microbiology department, expected the new institute would serve a coordinating function on campus and off. "The institute will help bring together the resources in food safety which are available, including those at the federal research laboratories and at Iowa State University. It will bring a unifying structure to food safety and security research at our university," he said.

Another benefit would be providing a network for those involved with food safety, according to Don Reynolds, associate dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. "This type of institute will allow us to respond quickly to emerging needs related to food safety and security. It will help to strengthen our communications with the private sector," he said.

University administrators point to collaborations with USDA animal health agencies in Ames as a strength for the new institute. They say another positive is the $40 million in support that has been secured by those who will be part of the institute.


Catherine Woteki, College of Agriculture, (515) 294-2518
Jim Dickson, Microbiology, (515) 294-4733
Don Reynolds, College of Veterinary Medicine, (515) 294-9348
Ed Adcock, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-2314