In Press: AFS’s Brashears stresses need for better food chain cooperation
By: Norman Martin
Recently, Mindy Brashears, a longtime professor of food microbiology and food safety at Texas Tech, sat down with Andy Vance, the host of a national podcast called Food Chain Chats. The program focuses on people who make a difference in the food chain from farm to fork. During the in-depth discussion, Brashears discussed key takeaways from her years in key regulatory, academic and research roles.
There is a growing need to build bridges among government, industry and academia, reports Mindy Brashears, a professor of food microbiology and food safety with Texas Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences. Too often, there's a disconnect in data sharing and communication due to the structure of individual roles.
“Knowing we all have the same objectives would go a long way in protecting public health,” said Brashears, who serves as Director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence in Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. “We could progress food safety by leaps and bounds with more communication and cooperation.” Brashears, who returned to Lubbock this summer, served as USDA Undersecretary of Agriculture for Food Safety from 2019 to 2021.
In her wide-ranging conversation, Brashears covered several food safety topics, including the role that performance standards for Salmonella and other pathogens will have on the future of food safety and the importance of taking a farm-to-table approach that includes close monitoring of pathogen loads throughout. She also discussed the coordinated efforts to protect worker safety and the food supply during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past Brashears' research has focused on interventions in pre-and post-harvest environments, and on the emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance. Her interests have been in meat and poultry products, with some work on spinach as well. Her work has resulted in the commercialization of pre-harvest feed additives that reduce E. coli and Salmonella in cattle. Separately, she has led international research teams to Mexico, Belize and Argentina to improve food safety and security in those sectors, and to set up sustainable agriculture systems in impoverished areas.
After earning a bachelor's degree in food technology from Texas Tech, Brashears received master's and doctorate degrees in food science from Oklahoma State University. She was an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska's Department of Food Science and Technology before returning to Tech.
Brashears was awarded the American Meat Science Association's Distinguished Research Award (2018), and has been actively involved in the organization for decades, previously serving as a judge for the graduate research poster competition. In addition, she received the AMSA Industry/Extension Service Award (2017), and in the same year was named a future icon in the meat industry by the National Provisioner and was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors.
CONTACT: Cindy Akers, Interim Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or email@example.com
0831NM21 / Editor's Note: Click here to hear Food Chain Chats podcast with Mindy Brashears
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Editor: Norman Martin
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