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OSU center trains next generation of food safety leaders

Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center is providing a new generation of food industry leaders firsthand experience in helping companies take advantage of best management practices and enhanced food safety systems.

Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center is providing a new generation of food industry leaders firsthand experience in helping companies take advantage of best management practices and enhanced food safety systems.

Raghu Kakarala and Praveen Yerramsetti, food science doctoral candidates, gained experience in food safety by working at FAPC and helping food companies.

“Raghu and Praveen have used their knowledge to assist the Oklahoma food industry with internal auditing of a company’s Global Food Safety Initiative scheme,” said Jason Young, FAPC quality management specialist.

Kakarala used the food safety audit system as a basis for his Ph.D. project as he developed the Oklahoma Audit Alliance. The program allows participating food companies in Oklahoma to send their food safety professionals to do internal auditing at other facilities.

“Food safety auditing is one of the fastest growing segments of the industry,” Kakarala said. “The hands-on experience I received working with Jason at FAPC was essential to earning this scholarship and shaping my professional goals and ambitions.”

Praveen Yerramsetti showcased his knowledge gained through FAPC’s food safety training by helping an Oklahoma company through its GFSI audit.

“Working side-by-side with Jason in the world of food safety and auditing afforded me an internship during the summer of 2015 with Head Country Food Products,” Yerramsetti said. “I assisted Head Country in its BRC audit and helped the company achieve the highest rating of AA. This experience was second-to-none.”

Kakarala and Yerramsetti have helped Young develop model food safety procedures and support.

“FAPC’s industry-supported Global Food Safety System program has been invaluable as it has provided financial assistance to Raghu and Praveen as students at FAPC,” Young said, “This has given them the opportunity to develop into food safety professionals.”

As a result of their hands-on experience, Yerramsetti and Kakarala were awarded Safe Quality Food Scholarships from the Food Marketing Institute and recognized during the SQF International Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana, Nov. 3-5, 2015.

The scholarships are intended for students who have an enthusiasm to work in the food industry and want to be part of the food safety auditing profession, Young said.

“Raghu and Praveen possess this quality,” he said. “They are both extremely deserving of this scholarship as they have recognized the opportunities that the auditing profession as well as the food industry offers. They have driven themselves to become highly knowledgeable in the development of food safety systems.”

The FMI Foundation awards scholarships to 10 food and animal science majors for their academic pursuits to improve food safety and protect public health. These competitive FMI Foundation scholarships are based on academic ability, leadership potential, motivation and initiative, and passion for the food industry and the auditing profession.

FAPC, a part of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, helps to discover, develop and deliver technical and business information that will stimulate and support the growth of value-added food and agricultural products and processing in Oklahoma.

 

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Reporter: Ashley Middleswarth, FAPC Communications Graduate Student

Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 36,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 25,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 120 nations. Established in 1890, Oklahoma State has graduated more than 260,000 students who have been serving Oklahoma and the world for 125 years.