From Food Fraud to Public Health – A Tier One Program (TOP* Grant)
*Description of Program: In July 2011 Texas A&M President Loftin announced a reallocation of $6 million to improve undergraduate and graduate student learning and faculty engagement through high-impact educational practices and experiences under the umbrella of the Activity 2 program, now known as Tier One Program (TOP), providing funding of $100,000 per year for a maximum of three years.
Drs. Talcott and a multi-departmental team of faculty received the 2018-2019 Tier One Grant for: Hands-On Training in Food Diversity – From Food Fraud to Public Health
Our food supply is internationally connected and highly dependent on additives and ingredients from around the world representing different cultures and processing regulations. As such, issues of food safety, food authentication, and food certifications are prevalent and issues of “food diversity” are a nexus between the food industries and consumers.
The Food Diversity Innovation Program (FDIP) encompasses key principles of increasing importance to the global food industry including religious and ethnic foods and other certified food systems such as organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, allergen-free, and other personal/socially conscious certifications. Certified food systems require extensive employee training and recordkeeping to verify authenticity, safety, processing adulterations, and fraud. Our endowed FDIP program was established in 2016 as a sustainable high-impact research and education model based on religious and ethnic foods and other certified foods to educate students through high impact learning in concert with the food industry.
The current research and education portfolio of FDIP will join forces with the training program for environmental health and interdisciplinary program in toxicology at the graduate and undergraduate levels with research in human exposure to toxins in food and water and environmental impacts of food production. These programs will provide outside the classroom high-impact-learning modules for existing courses and research activities for graduate and undergraduate students exploring complexities of diverse food systems, environmental and food toxicology, food safety, and food authentication/adulteration/fraud while engaging in hands-on, lifelong learning, and critical thinking activities that increase our students’ ability to thrive and excel in diverse work-environments.
Objectives and Impacts of the TOP Program:
- Experiential high-impact learning modules-Reaching and training over 2,500 undergraduate students within and outside existing courses in Food Diversity, Food Science, Food Safety, Public Health, and Toxicology including certified qualifications in the areas of food safety
- Novel interdisciplinary, personalized, and hands-on research training-Expanding faculty-led training collaboration with the goal of enhancing high impact learning in food diversity, safety and health.
Through engagement in food product development, food analysis techniques, the food-environment-nexus within a toxicological framework, interactions with food and environmental industry, and introduction to new federal regulations
- “IFT-Aggie Day”
- Annual Environmental and Occupational Health Industry Advisory Board
FDI and SPH students will be partnered with mentoring companies in a formal program for on-site tours, individual training, hands-on product development, food safety and food quality exercises, and audited certifications.
- Study Abroad: Texas
A week in various Texas food processing plants to study food quality, processing, safety, and certifications as well as studying the implementation of SQF and FSMA practices.
- Study Abroad Programs-Alternating between Italy and Brazil
4-5 weeks each summer, studying innovative food and nutrition systems in a culturally and ethnically diverse environment
- Outside the Classroom project FSTC/NUTR 300
For students in FSTC/NUTR 300 includes a market-basket survey of foods with verifiable certifications.
- Distinguished Lecture Series on Food Diversity
World authorities on certified food processes will give lectures and spend time with our students in advancing our research and education foci
- Annual Food Diversity Conference
The conference will involve formal lectures, workshops, round-tables, and distinguished panels for student interactions with national and international leaders in the food industry. Trainee-B