In a recent article by Purdue University,  author Jillian Ellison talked to  Amanda Deering, Ph.D., at Purdue University about how food safety became her driving passion and has made impacts abroad.

According to the article, Deering, a  Clinical Associate Professor and Fresh Produce Food Safety Extension Specialist with the Department of Food Sciences at Purdue University, was primarily interested in plants and microbiology throughout her undergraduate and master studies. It was after arriving at Purdue to pursue her Ph.D., that her interest in food safety began.

Deering’s post-doctoral research was with Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. “Dole had come to Purdue to meet with a professor in the food science department, and at the last minute they couldn’t be there, so they asked me to step in and talk about my research,” Deering said. “After that, Dole offered me the post-doc position and it kept rolling from there.” 

She spent her time with Dole at its California research facility, where Deering said she worked alongside other professionals to create a triple wash system for bagged leafy produce.“ It was the perfect opportunity that led into the job I have now.” 

Work in Afghanistan
Deering’s work in food safety has taken her as far as Afghanistan, where she worked with government officials and colleagues to train Afghans on how to test for pathogens.

Deering said her biggest accomplishment was creating a food technology department at Herat University.

“Our first-year students there had a 100 percent job placement rate upon graduation, which never happens in Afghanistan,” she said. “The jobs were mostly related to the food industry in Afghanistan and neighboring countries, and it proved how much this was needed.” 

“I did work with a company in Chicago that imports saffron from Afghanistan, and at the time I got there they were rejecting 50 percent of what they imported due to E. coli contamination,” Deering said. “They needed our help, so we took some of the employees from Afghanistan over to India for training in good agricultural practices. The year following that training, they didn’t reject a single shipment. All of the product was safe to consume.” 

Deering plans to continue to create educational opportunities for facilities and their workers. 

More information about the Purdue Food Safety Extension can be found here.

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