Food Safety on Display at Farm-to-Fork Festival
Chris Brunner, October 3, 2014
More than 30,000 people attended the second annual Farm-to-Fork Festival held on Capitol Mall in downtown Sacramento. California’s state capitol building was the backdrop for the food vendors, entertainment stages, and educational booths that stretched the length of the Mall.
The School of Veterinary Medicine booth provided festival goers a lesson in food safety. Faculty and researchers from the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security (WIFSS) were on board to talk about food safety and harmful pathogens that cause foodborne illness.
Several hundred adults and children enjoyed the bean bag toss where they aimed for one of four buckets symbolizing the FDA’s four simple steps to food safety: clean, separate, cook and chill. In addition to accurately hitting the target, they answered a question which centered on one of the four food safety areas.
Team members skillfully fielded questions from the audience.
One visitor wondered what veterinary medicine has to do with food safety. Heather Johnson, training and certification specialist at WIFSS, explained that, “Veterinarians have an important role to play in food safety as they are very important to the health of food animals, such as cattle, pigs, chicken, and the like. Vets can also help with produce food safety because they know about the pathogens, or “bad bugs,” that animals may shed in the environment.”
She went on to explain, “Animals, including livestock and wildlife, can be reservoirs for disease agents that can lead to human illness, including the famous, E. coli O157:H7, found in the gut of many mammals. When these pathogens are shed by animals, or people, into the environment, contaminated water or soil may come into contact with produce commodities.”
Johnson concluded, the bottom line is, “People can get sick if they ingest the contaminated raw produce.”
WIFSS took the lead organizing, staging and manning the booth. WIFSS team members included Chris Brunner, Heather Johnson, Ronny Bond, Missy Partyka, Dr. Mike Payne, Dr. Bennie Osburn, Anka Swieniecka, Dr. Michele Jay-Russell and Dr. John Angelos.
Programs at the School of Veterinary Medicine such as the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security, the Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center and the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, do much to protect the food supply and support agricultural producers and commodity groups.
The Farm-to-Fork Festival was a great outreach opportunity for WIFSS to connect with and educate the community about food safety.