February, President Bush asked three Cabinet departments to develop
new procedures to protect the nation's food supply against agricultural
terrorism attacks. Part of this order called for the agencies to
plan ways to stabilize the food supply and the economy and to help
the nation recover after an attack.
many of the opportunities for purposeful contamination of food during
the processing activity are the same opportunities that exist for
unintentional contamination during the processing activity.
state food processors have already been receiving training in how
to safeguard their plants from contamination through the work of
Extension Food Processing Specialist Richard (Dick) Dougherty and
his team in the Food Science and Human Nutrition department at Washington
importance of this activity to the Washington economy is readily
apparent by looking at some of the numbers attached to the food
processing industry in Washington. In this state, food processing
is a major industry that provides over 32,000 full- and part-time
jobs generating an annual payroll of over $1 billion. In addition,
the industry creates some $2.53 billion in value added by the products
produced after raw food products are processed.
The Extension Food Processing Program has improved the competitiveness
of Northwest food businesses by assisting with the practical application
of scientific information and regulatory guidance to the businesses.
In the past two years Dick Dougherty and his team have been responsible
for helping Northwest food businesses generate or save an estimated
$3.3 million in revenue. The team annually evaluates approximately
170 products for safety. More than half the products evaluated make
it to the marketplace. One of the clients sent a note to Dick thanking
him for his work in analyzing a product problem in connection with
a processing activity for an overseas client. The closing statement
of the letter said, "...through your efforts...was (1) able to satisfy
and retain a $2.7 million customer, (2) learn about and correct
a quality control point (problem) in our processing line, and (3)
developed a very valuable technical resource in Washington State
University, Washington Manufacturing Services, and especially in
you, Dick Doughtery."
|Extension Food Processing Specialist Dick Dougherty speaking at the "Better Process Control School",
Seattle, March 2004.
More than 800 industry people participated in
the 29 food safety training courses offered by the team in 2004.
Some of these workshops include the "Northwest Food Safety & Sanitation
Conference," which annually draws 300 to 350 attendees. This is
a 2-day workshop of practical food safety and sanitation presentations
and discussions. In addition, Dick's team also delivers a series
of basic workshops for various food processing industries, including
seafood, meat and poultry, and the juice industry. This training
is part of the Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point Program
(HACCP), a program required for employees of the above industries.
The training is attended by some 150 food processing industry
training offered by Dick's team include SQF (Safe Quality Food),
a relatively new approach to food safety and quality based on
HACCP principles; Low Acid and Acidified Foods Training, a training
required by the Food and Drug Administration, USDA, and most states
for processors of products in sealed containers. This training
is delivered to some 100‚125 people each year in the Pacific Northwest.
The Food Processing Program was started in 1990 in the Food Science
and Human Nutrition Department as an economic development program
to help small and developing food processing companies. It quickly
evolved into a full-scale Extension program to address a wide
range of challenges faced by food processing industry, including
food safety and agricultural terrorism issues.
In recognition of his contributions to the region's food processing
industry, the Northwest Food Processors Association presented
its Distinguished Service Award to Richard Dougherty, project
director, at the organization's annual meeting in January 2002.
The Extension Food Processing team consists of: Dong-Hyun Kang,
WSU Extension food microbiologist; Mike Costello, WSU food science
and human nutrition research technologist; Connie Barner, senior
secretary in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition;
and Ann Brelsford, conference coordinator in the Extension Meeting
Management and Program Support office.
Chair, Information Department