OSU teaches food safety to entrepreneurs

Jovana Kovacevic, OSU microbiologist and Extension food safety specialist, in her lab at the OSU Food Innovation Center in Portland.

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.”

Related stories

OSU Train the Trainers workshops keep agricultural workers on track with food safety

Food safety education is the key to preventing the risk of food contamination in the supply chain, especially when crops are harvested directly by workers. In those cases, farms must remain especially vigilant to ensure their ...

Food pantries receive fresh blueberry donations during pandemic

In July 2020, the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC) in Aurora found itself with 1,800 pounds of mechanically harvested blueberries ready for distribution. Normally the berries are harvested and purchased by ...

Small Farm School boosts potential of new farmers in north Willamette Valley

Small-acreage farming is growing popular in Oregon. The 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture, released in early 2019, shows that small farms (less than 10 acres) are the fastest growing farm size in the ...