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Tom Ridge.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, above, and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman came to the University on Tuesday to open the National Center for Food Protection and Defense which will work to bolster the safety of the U.S. food supply.

Tom Ridge opens new Center for Food Protection and Defense

Published on July 8, 2004

Ensuring the safety of the country's food supply is the mission of the new National Center for Food Protection and Defense, headquartered at the U of M. Comprising about 90 researchers from the U, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, North Dakota State University, and Michigan State University, the center was created with a three-year, $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. On Tuesday, July 6, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman came to campus to formally open the center. Through the center, researchers will work on several fronts to bolster the safety of a food supply that is already very safe, says center director Frank Busta, a professor of food science and nutrition. Focus areas include improving the tracking of foodstuffs from farm to table; developing means to identify foreign organisms or chemicals in food; improving the process of tracking the distribution of contaminated food and warning potential victims; and finding the best ways to decontaminate food.

Prevention will also be a high priority. "We will make decisions about how to prevent an attack on the food system, for example, through high security in processing plants and transport or through employee screening," says Busta. "The goal is to make [a food delivery] system unavailable or unattractive to terrorists."

For more on the event, see the Minneapolis Star Tribune story. For more on the center, see an earlier UMNnews story.

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