Oregon State University's Food Innovation Center in Portland works with entrepreneurs as they develop their ideas and business plans. With the passage of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, the staff at the center – Oregon’s only urban Agricultural Experiment Station – needed to build their capacity to help these small-scale producers comply with strict food safety requirements.
Food safety microbiologist Jovana Kovacevic joined the center in the fall of 2016 to spearhead that effort. “We are getting more questions about food safety and FSMA-related activities and requirements, especially for mid-sized, small, and very small growers and processors,” Kovacevic said. “We hope to help them better understand and apply FSMA and encourage them to build a food safety culture into their businesses.”
Kovacevic launched a new food microbiology lab at the center that promises to be a hub for food safety research and client-driven projects. Her new Oregon Food Safety Group listserv has welcomed about 40 people from OSU and the Oregon Department of Agriculture as well as health groups and food safety professionals from federal agencies.
Kovacevic also coordinates the FSMA Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety, a new USDA-funded center responsible for facilitating FSMA training initiatives in the western United States (including Hawai`i), Guam and American Samoa.
“Food safety is a group effort,” says Kovacevic, “and we want to build a forum where we can promote food safety conversations and collaborations in our region.”