PULLMAN, Wash. – Food safety professionals from developing countries recently visited Washington State University to learn about processing, transportation and storage advances to feed their countries’ people with better quality and efficiency.
“WSU is pleased to nurture international connections that fit very well with our university’s land grant mission and strategic priorities,” said Jerman Rose, interim vice provost for the WSU Office of International Programs. “WSU is a global university and participation in the Cochran Fellowship Program is just one small part of that.”
WSU inspires best practices
WSU continued its ongoing partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Services fellowship for emerging economies in Asia and Latin America. Two trainings in August and September focused on cold chain innovation and management for Peru, Bolivia and the Philippines.
A cold chain is a temperature-controlled series of storage and distribution activities used to help extend and ensure the shelf life of products.
Cochran fellows visited WSU researchers and labs. The South American fellows intend to use what they learned to set up new labs and procedures for best industry practices and reduction of food waste.
“This opportunity to connect with our U.S. partners made us aware of necessary changes and action, from technical and best management practices to new policy and regulations, needed to make our companies better compete in the cold chain and logistics industry,” said fellow Anthony Dizon, president of the Cold Chain Alliance of the Philippines. “It will also allow us to pursue more trade and commercial activities, especially with U.S. companies, and help secure food for our people.”
Industry invites knowledge exchange
The groups also visited several Northwest food processing and storage facilities such as Americold, Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Simplot.
“It was a special treat to meet professionals from far away parts of the world and exchange ideas and concerns with them,” said Mike George, president of Food Services of America. “We always get as much out of these study tour sessions as do our visitors.”
“We enjoyed the opportunity to further build our relationship with WSU and share our experiences and knowledge with industry professionals from other countries,” said Mike Davis, quality assurance manager at Simplot. “I appreciated the insightful questions and discussions we had.”
Global collaboration a priority
Leading the trainings for WSU were Shyam Sablani, associate professor in biological systems engineering, and Jane Payumo, international research associate for international programs.
“It is our hope that the program will stimulate improvements in the cold chain, postharvest management and food processing industries, leading to safe and better quality foods, reduced food waste and increased food sufficiency in the different countries,” said Sablani.
Globalizing economies and rising global demand for food make international collaboration especially important, Rose said. WSU international programs will continue to play an active role in facilitating these international alliances through knowledge and technology transfer.