An effort to establish a food safety program at Oklahoma State University (OSU) is off and running, with nearly one third of the financial goal to make the program a reality having been reached.

The advisory board of OSU’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center (FAPC) provided more than $1 million as a lead gift toward a $3.4 million fundraising goal to create a food safety program at Oklahoma State University (OSU), which includes a curriculum proposal for a food safety option and a food safety faculty position in the department of animal science.

“Once the food-safety option is approved and implemented, OSU will be among the first to offer an undergraduate food-safety option, according to our research,” said John Griffin, president and CEO of Griffin Foods in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and spokesperson for FAPC’s advisory board.

With a growing demand for safe quality food products, the need for food industry companies to engage in food-safety programs is more important than ever.

With the support of the advisory board, FAPC implemented a Global Food Safety Initiative program to strive for continuous improvement of food-safety management systems that ensure safe food and consumer confidence.

The FAPC-GFSI program focuses on food-industry assistance in the areas of training, auditing, pre-third-party audit preparations, education, and in-plant technical assistance for food safety and quality programs.

The center’s quality management specialist, Jason Young, has filled the GFSI specialist role. One of the major ways Young assists food companies is by conducting internal audits, said Chuck Willoughby, FAPC manager of business and marketing relations.

“Globalization of the food industry has significantly affected almost every Oklahoma food processor directly and indirectly with mandated food-safety and security regulations and policies that cut across all food-processing sectors,” Willoughby said. “The FAPC-GFSI program provides services to meet the food safety and security needs of Oklahoma’s food industry.”

Once a faculty member is hired, that person is expected to be instrumental in global food safety.

The Oklahoma Legislature established the Industry Advisory Committee to serve as an advisory board for FAPC.

“The Industry Advisory Committee offers counsel, makes recommendations and takes leadership action to ensure FAPC makes sound short- and long-term plans to accomplish its mission and objectives,” said Roy Escoubas, FAPC director. “I am extremely appreciative of the advisory board’s dedication and commitment to the food-safety campaign.”

Members of the committee are Oklahoma food industry leaders, appointed by the highest positions of the Oklahoma state government and the vice president and dean of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.