The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes more than 7,400 recalls in fiscal year 2018. Specific lots of everything from turkey to romaine lettuce, beef, sausage, chicken, cereal, cake mixes, cheesecake, salads, pet food and more were recalled.
Public Health professionals are often on the front lines to help identify and help prevent food safety issues. Detecting such outbreaks and finding the cause are important to public health and safety. North Dakota State University‘s Master of Public Health degree with a specialization in food safety is available both on-campus and through distance education formats.
“The NDSU Master of Public Health in food safety will educate future professionals to assist in maintaining the safety of food systems which affect millions of people,” said Abby Gold, vice chair and associate professor in Public Health at NDSU.
“The program fits well with specializations we already offer in community health sciences, management of infectious diseases, and American Indian Public Health,” explained Gold.
The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 shifted the U.S. approach to food supply from reactive to focusing on preventative approaches. The need for food safety experts becomes increasingly important in a complex food system.
Monitoring and preventing the spread of foodborne disease, disseminating and enforcing key laws or regulations, and educating the public on safe food handling practices are top priorities for food safety. Using innovative methods in molecular microbiology, biotechnology, science-based risk assessment and management, hygiene principles, food safety laws and regulations, and active surveillance programs are key.
“It’s an exciting time in the field of food safety, with advances in DNA sequencing technology that allow for more rapid detection pathogens and of outbreaks,” said Teresa Bergholz, assistant professor in microbiological sciences at NDSU. “This program will provide the knowledge and skills to students to be able to interface with food industry professionals, regulators, and consumers regarding food safety issues,” explained Bergholz.
During the program, students will take courses in biostatistics, epidemiology, public health management and policy, environmental health, community health leadership, and social and behavioral sciences in Public Health. The program includes hands-on practicum experience.
“Upon completion of NDSU’s MPH degree in Food Safety, students will have the skills and knowledge to become vital frontline members working to keep our population and food systems safe and secure,” said Gold.
The discipline of public health focuses on improving the general health of communities through efforts to monitor the spread of diseases, initiatives to prevent disease and disability, and by promoting healthy lifestyles through education and community engagement.
“Adding a food safety specialization to our Master of Public Health program further illustrates our commitment as a land grant university to serving citizens,” said Charles D. Peterson, dean of the College of Health Professions at NDSU.
NDSU’s MPH program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) through December 2021.