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Breakthroughs in Food Safety through Collaborative Efforts
By Josh Tenney, Iowa State University

Iowa State University, along with 10 other universities, has published a report exploring research projects funded by the USDA. The report illustrates research breakthroughs and the importance of the work done by the researchers at all of the included institutions. Some of the fascinating research published in the report includes developing weather-specific varieties of rice, removing allergens from peanuts, and developing new cage-free egg production methods.

The report served as a way for several universities to join together and highlight the sophisticated problems facing those who are in charge of protecting the food supply. Legislative developments such as the Food Safety Modernization Act have also demonstrated a greater need for food safety experts not just academically, but in the private sector too. As reports like the one above call for greater funding of agricultural science and food safety, the need for globally available education has also become clearer.

At Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, they have extended support for food safety education to an entire online graduate certificate program. The Food Safety and Defense graduate certificate intends to broaden the reach of food safety education all over the world.Like the report above, the Food Safety and Defense program is offered as a collaboration between several universities through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA). With courses taught by faculty from Iowa State, Kansas State, University of Missouri, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the program combines distinguished minds from some of the most renowned agricultural colleges in the country to make Food Safety education available all over the world.

Photo by Andy Zehr, courtesy of Iowa State University


As an online program, the universities offering this program hope to invite individuals who may not be able to pursue graduate education otherwise, whether due to a busy schedule or being far from campus offerings. Current students in the program at Iowa State University are praising the experience: “It wasn’t stressful at all. You know... I didn’t have to worry about meeting at a certain time, not missing class if I was sick, I could still take it. So overall I highly recommend it,” said student Stephanie Hice. Student Matthew Harvey offered further praise for the benefits of the online experience: “I’ve learned that the more that I’m exposed to something, the more I learn. And so, being able to read something, being able to review PowerPoint slides, being able to listen to the instructor present the information... all of those things are beneficial.”

With renewed interest for food safety in both academia and private industry evidenced by report above, these online programs aim to support the growing need for food safety experts around the globe. For more information on the Food Safety and Defense program, visit Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Online Learning website.