BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (PRNewswire-USNewswire) — The International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI) announced yesterday that the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have passed legislation which includes $1 million for the institute to train state and local food safety inspectors. The Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations bill provides funding for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, rural development programs, and related agencies. The bill will now be sent to President Obama for his signature.
Speaking today at a press conference held by Congressman Mark Schauer (Michigan, District 7), Stephen Benoit, president and COO of the National Center for Food Protection and founding member of the board of directors of the IFPTI said, "The global interdependence of the food supply gives rise to unprecedented challenges for food protection professionals. One has to look no further than recent outbreaks involving Salmonella, E. coli, and melamine to grasp the significant health and economic impacts of a contaminated food supply." Benoit added, "The tireless efforts of Representative Mark Schauer and Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin to secure funding for the institute demonstrate their commitment to ensuring the safety of the nation's food supply."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths occur annually in the U.S. due to food pathogens; and about one of every four Americans will develop a foodborne illness each year.
Currently, state employees perform over half of all Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspections at domestic food processing plants. Yet, there are no mandatory federal training requirements for these food protection professionals and training varies widely by state.
IFPTI is the nation's only organization delivering career-spanning, certified food protection training to state, local, tribal and territorial food protection professionals on a cost-reimbursement basis. The specific aims for this training are to build capacity and assure competency within state food protection agencies as part of creating an effective, integrated national food safety system. Working in partnership with the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), and in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the institute has trained more than 200 food safety professionals from 28 different states since July 2009. The institute's goal is to train 1,000 state and local food protection professionals in 2010.