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Minnesota Selected to Create Food Safety Center of Excellence

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) selected the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health to create a regional center of excellence for food safety, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced Wednesday.

Minnesota’s Food Safety Center of Excellence — created as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which calls for the designation of five centers of excellence  — will “provide resources for state and local officials to improve food safety through better detection and investigation of outbreaks of foodborne illness.”

Joining with Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Sen. Klobuchar authored the specific provision that called for the Centers and Klobuchar’s office noted Wednesday that she has worked with CDC Director Thomas Friedman to secure funding for the measure so the Centers can begin operating.

Minnesota’s Center will aim to provide states with fewer resources the support and training needed to conduct food safety surveillance and outbreak investigations. The CDC awarded the Minnesota Department of Health $199,970 to help create the Center, according to Klobuchar’s office.

“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 front lines in the fight to keep consumers safe,” Klobuchar said in statement. “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.

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