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Oklahoma Food Safety Task Force meets at FAPC

Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center is helping to promote and launch the Vegas Strip Steak® into the foodservice market.

By Rebecca Bailey
FAPC Communications Services Graduate Assistant

(Stillwater, Okla. – July 29, 2013) The Oklahoma Food Safety Task Force coordinating committee met at Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center on July 23 to discuss the future of the task force.

“This is the fifth meeting of the task force,” said Stan Stromberg, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry food safety director. “One of the main purposes of this task force is to gather a diverse group of Oklahoma stakeholders comprised of government, academia, industry and consumer groups together to establish an effective statewide infrastructure.”

The task force was created to foster communication, cooperation and collaboration of effort related to food safety in Oklahoma spanning the horizon from production, processing, distribution, retail and foodservice sales, and home consumption of the food supply.

“Besides the traditional food-affiliated groups such as state agencies, national agencies, representatives of food wholesalers and agricultural commodities, we also have included groups involved with investigations as food defense is an important part of food safety,” said Peter Muriana, FAPC food microbiologist. “Our next steps are to create a more formalized structure, put officers in place, establish a website and have an operational organization.”

In 2009, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry received a five-year $5,000 grant from the Food and Drug Administration to fund the Oklahoma Food Safety Task Force.

Since the inception of the task force, members have met each year to strengthen the relationships between the organizations represented, train for all potential food emergency hazards and identify priorities for the task force.

“I believe communication and developing relationships is of extreme importance,” Stromberg said. “If we can develop those relationships so we know who to talk to and communicate with, it will only strengthen the core of the task force. We’re all in this situation together and we need to work together for the people of Oklahoma.”

Some of the topics discussed during the meeting were updates on the Food Safety Modernization Act, U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations on labeling of non-intact beef, good agricultural practices, integrated food safety system, observations on food safety preparedness after a disaster and InfraGuard.

Presenters included Jason Young, FAPC; Jake Nelson, FAPC; William McGlynn, FAPC; Tressa Madden, Food and Drug Administration; Shonia Hall, Cleveland County Health Department; Dana Harper, Oklahoma City FBI; Stan Stromberg, ODAFF; and Chuck Willoughby, FAPC.

The committee ended the meeting with a discussion on the future of the task force. The group agreed the need for a website and the establishment of an organized officer team with bylaws would be beneficial to help the task force carry out its objectives. The committee has planned a follow-up meeting in September in Oklahoma City to dive further into these two topics.

“It was a pleasure serving as the host for the Oklahoma Food Safety Task Force organizational meeting,” Muriana said. “Although we are not a regulatory branch of the state, we do have our own educational, outreach and research interests in food safety, which works nicely to complement the state’s interest in the development of the task force.”

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Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant system of interdisciplinary programs that prepares students for success. OSU is America’s Brightest Orange. Through leadership and service, OSU is preparing students for a bright future and building a brighter world for all. As Oklahoma’s only university with a statewide presence, OSU improves the lives of people in Oklahoma, the nation and the world through integrated, high-quality teaching, research and outreach. OSU has more than 36,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 24,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 120 nations. Established in 1890, OSU has graduated more than 245,000 students to serve Oklahoma, the nation and the world.

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