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Food Safety Conference March 12-13

PULLMAN, Wash. — Authorities estimate that one of every three Americans comes down with a food borne illness every year. Salmonella bacteria is the most frequently reported cause.

Emerging food safety issues will be the focus of the fifth annual Food Safety Farm to Table Conference scheduled March 12-13 at the University Inn, Moscow, Idaho.

Keynote speaker Dr. Fred Angulo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to report on the results of intensive studies of food borne illness at eight sentinel sites around the nation. He also is expected to discuss the implications of President Clinton’s proposed $43 million food safety initiative on expanding those sites.

“Just a tiny percent of food borne illnesses are reported now,” said Val Hillers, Washington State University Cooperative Extension food safety specialist. “Sentinel site studies abroad have found that Campylobacter is three times more common than Salmonella as the cause of food borne illness.

“Campyloacterosis, the illness caused by the Campylobacter bacteria, is less likely to be as serious than Salmonellosis,” Hillers said, “but if we don’t know it’s lurking out there, then we are not prepared to deal with it in a serious way.”

Symptoms of Campylobacterosis include muscle pain, headache and fever followed by abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea. The disease is typically linked with undercooked poultry, meats, raw milk and untreated water.

Other speakers will tackle these questions:

  • What are the critical control points for prevention of food borne illnesses from fresh produce?
  • What is the role of parasites in food and waterborne illnesses?
  • Does mad cow disease pose a threat to the U.S. meat supply?
  • What lessons have been learned from outbreaks of food borne illness?

John Wiley, head of the Spokane bureau of the Associated Press, will talk about the challenge of communicating food safety and related issues, after lunch on Wednesday, March 12.

The conference is sponsored by the Northwest Center for the Safety and Quality of Meat and Dairy Products, a coalition of researchers and food safety educators at Washington State University and the University of Idaho.

While this conference is geared for professionals, it is open to the public. The conference registration fee is $150. Call (509) 335-2954 to register.

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