Cornell University enters the New Year with a new venture, the Institute for Food Safety, which university officials say will combine research efforts with training for New York growers and shippers.

The institute is expected to provide a "farm-to-fork bulwark against foodborne illness" that is in compliance with new, stricter federal regulations, including the produce rule published by the Food and Drug Administration, according to a news release.

The school is using a $2 million state grant to establish the Cornell Institute for Food Safety. The institute is at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York.

Susan Brown, director of the experiment station, said in the release that the institute comes at a critical time for the agricultural industry.

"While we have the technology to trace back to sources of contamination in our food supply, the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell will proactively help prevent such contamination from the start by providing training and the knowledge base to conduct state-of-the-art safe agricultural practices," Brown said in the release.

Cornell"s Betsy Bihn, who is senior extension associate in the department of food science, director of the Produce Safety Alliance and program coordinator for the National Good Agricultural Practices Program, will be involved with the new institute. Bihn"s research has focused on reducing microbial risks to fresh fruits and vegetables.

"The Institute for Food Safety at Cornell is a great opportunity to focus on our strengths to better serve New Yorkers who need food safety training and expertise to support their farms and processing businesses," Bihn said in the release.

"This institute will provide the framework to assemble all the key pieces that are already here to build a unique, valuable and much-needed resource in light of new regulations associated with the Food Safety Modernization Act."

Bihn said she will continue with her work at the Produce Safety Alliance, which the Food and Drug Administration helps fund as part of its efforts to meet requirements in the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011.

 
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