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Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) board of directors has established The Center of Excellence for Food Safety and Protection, which will serve as a comprehensive resource for food safety and protection information, initiatives and programs to assist FMI members, the food and consumer products industry, and consumers.
“Food safety is a priority for retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers,” said FMI president and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin. “The Center of Excellence for Food Safety and Protection will create a valuable benefit for members as they address all aspects of food safety and protection within their companies. The center will serve as a resource to consolidate our knowledge of food safety and strengthen our commitment to ensuring that the food we sell is as safe as possible.”
The center will unite food safety experts and professionals from government relations, asset protection, food defense, supply chain management, health and wellness, sustainability and industry relations to work on all aspects of food safety. This collaboration will yield information on the safety of the food supply from farm to table, as well as providing support, services and tools to help members deal with food safety and protection.
Among the further goals of the center is the development of prevention programs, improved public/private partnerships, stronger working relationships, crisis management, and better response and recovery plans.
“All of us in the food industry hold the same expectation as our customers -- that the food we bring home to our families is safe,” noted Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman, who is also chairman of the FMI Board Food Safety Committee. “The Center of Excellence for Food Safety and Protection will provide us with access to the most timely information and resources related to food safety so we can maintain our goal of providing safe food in our stores.”
Additional resources addressing food and agriculture infrastructure such as intentional adverse events, animal welfare issues, and emergency preparation and response plans will also be available through the center.
To head the center, FMI has tapped Jill Hollingsworth, DVM, who is now an FMI SVP. She was formerly group VP of food safety programs for the organization. Before joining FMI, Hollingsworth worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 15 years, where she oversaw a wide variety of scientific activities, including outbreak investigations, recalls and public health policy. She was also a captain in the U.S. Air Force Reserves as part of the Biomedical Service Corps, specializing in biological warfare and food defense.
Assisting Hollingsworth in this endeavor is Rhett Asher, FMI’s VP of industry relations, whose area of expertise encompasses asset protection and loss prevention.
The center will report to the FMI board-level Food Safety Committee. FMI membership committees and councils, including the Food Protection Committee and Homeland Security Committee, will offer guidance.
Now in the works, a new interactive website for the Center will be a subject-matter repository with easy access to food safety and protection information.