U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the University of Minnesota today announced that the Minnesota Department of Health, in partnership with the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, has been selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create a Food Safety Center of Excellence that will help prevent and respond to foodborne illnesses. The Center will provide resources for state and local officials to improve food safety through better detection and investigation of outbreaks of foodborne illness. Klobuchar authored the bipartisan provision, passed into law as part of a larger bill, that established Food Safety Centers for Excellence and pushed to ensure they were implemented.
"Minnesota has been a leader in the effort to improve food safety, and today's announcement means that our state will continue to be on the front lines in the fight to keep consumers safe," Klobuchar said. "Ensuring a rapid response to outbreaks of contaminated food is critical to maintaining public trust in our food supply, and I will continue to work to improve the security of the food on our tables."
"We are honored to work with our partners at the University of Minnesota, and other state and federal public health and regulatory agencies to improve the detection of and response to foodborne illnesses in this country," said Richard Danila, assistant state epidemiologist and section manager for Acute Disease Investigation and Control at the Minnesota Department of Health.
"Because outbreak investigations are the only way to identify new food safety hazards, the Centers will have an important role to play in rapidly identifying and effectively responding to these new threats,"said Craig Hedberg, Ph.D., University of Minnesota School of Public Health Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences.
Minnesota's Food Safety Center for Excellence will provide states with fewer resources support and training in conducting food safety surveillance and outbreak investigations. The Center will also develop educational courses and programs to serve the broader public health, regulatory, and academic communities. The CDC awarded the Minnesota Department of Health $199,970 to help create the Center.
Klobuchar has been a strong advocate for food safety. She authored the Food Safety Rapid Response Act with Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), which established Food Safety Centers of Excellence to strengthen federal, state, and local officials' ability to investigate outbreaks using the procedures of the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and the University of Minnesota as national models for improved food safety surveillance. The bill was passed into law in 2011 as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Since then, Klobuchar has worked closely with CDC Director Thomas Frieden to ensure that the Food Safety Centers of Excellence receive the resources they need to begin operating.