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FAPC welcomes new food safety specialist

Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center is striving to be a leader in global food safety and has added a new position to strengthen that effort.

By Laci Jones, FAPC Communications Student

(Stillwater, Okla. – Jan. 16, 2015) Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center is striving to be a leader in global food safety and has added a new position to strengthen that effort.

Ravi Jadeja was named FAPC food safety specialist and assistant professor in the department of animal science. Jadeja comes to FAPC from the University of Georgia, where he served as a postdoctoral researcher and focused on the effectiveness and feasibility of integrating novel technologies in beef processing to minimize the occurrence of “top 7” Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli.

“I am excited about this opportunity since the position fits very well with my career goals that are aimed at the development of a successful teaching and outreach program, and addressing the needs of the food industry,” Jadeja said.

During the past several years, Jadeja focused his attention on the development of strategies to control foodborne pathogens and to improve the safety and quality of a variety of food products at pre- and post-harvest levels.

This tenure-track faculty position is 70 percent teaching and 30 percent extension related to food safety. The principle responsibilities include teaching and outreach programs in Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points, food safety, food security and Global Food Safety Initiative platforms.

“I am very fortunate to have this opportunity to be a part of such a prestigious center,” Jadeja said. “I always believed that the ultimate aim of research and education programs should be to help stakeholders and consumers.”

This position was made possible because FAPC’s Industry Advisory Committee, a 16-member board made up of food and agricultural industry leaders who are appointed by the highest positions of the Oklahoma state government.

FAPC’s advisory board provided more than $1 million as a lead gift toward a $3.4 million fundraising goal to create an OSU food safety program, which includes a curriculum proposal for a food safety option and the hiring of the food safety specialist position.

“I am extremely appreciative of the advisory board’s dedication and commitment to the food safety campaign,” said Roy Escoubas, FAPC director. “Because of their drive to this campaign, we were able to create this position and hire Ravi, who will be instrumental in creating the curriculum for the proposed food safety option and assisting the industry with global food safety.”

With a growing demand for safe quality food products, the need for food industry companies to engage in food safety programs is more important than ever.

“My overall goal is to work with faculty members and experts to develop a well-recognized and strong food safety option program,” Jadeja said. “The proposed academic program will train and prepare students for food safety related jobs in the food industry after graduation.”

Peter Muriana, FAPC food microbiologist and chair of the search committee, said Jadeja is a perfect fit for the position.

“Ravi is already making strides to integrate himself into the position, to meet stakeholders and develop courses for teaching food safety,” Muriana said. “Our graduate students, who are trained in food safety, are picked up rather quickly by industry, but there is a limited number of graduate students compared to undergraduate students. Our first cadre of undergraduates who complete the new proposed food safety option should make even a bigger splash in providing trained personnel to food businesses in the state.”

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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.