University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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Nov. 21, 2003

UW-RF Microbiology Symposium Concludes with Success
By Jessica Campbell
UW-RF News Bureau

Faces from around the world recently gathered to discuss current topics affecting food safety and microbiology at the 23rd International Food Microbiology Symposium and Workshop.

Some110 participants took part in this successful event hosted by the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

The purpose of the program is aimed at continuing the education of professionals in the fields of food science and microbiology, according to the symposium's coordinator, food science Professor P.C. Vasavada.

It is an outreach effort to keep professionals updated about current issues related to food safety, emerging pathogens, and rapid methods for detection. The emphasis was on the practical application of this information to solve food microbiological safety and quality problems.

As an international program, speakers and participants came from various parts of the world including England, Canada, India, Bangladesh, Finland and the Netherlands. In addition to Minnesota and Wisconsin, about eight other U.S. states were also represented.

The conference was launched with a speech about emerging food safety and regulatory issues in Wisconsin by keynote speaker Secretary Rod Nilsestuen. An alumnus of UW-RF, Nilsestuen is secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Also speaking was Will Hueston, the director of the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. Hueston spoke about Wisconsin's chronic wasting disease problem in it's deer herd, and the future potential for mad cow disease. He emphasized the need for more scientific research and public communication on this topic.

The banquet speaker was Dane Bernard, from Keystone Foods, in Philadelphia. Bernard's speech was on the microbiology safety of meat. He has been on several advising committees and task forces for the government.

The symposium consisted of morning lectures and afternoon workshops and presentations. Technical representatives of 18 different companies involved in developing and marketing instruments and assays for microbiological analysis of food participated in these sessions. The companies displayed and demonstrated current tests and new instruments for the rapid detection of food pathogens. Many of the companies involved have participated in the symposium for several years. New this year was Vermicon AG's from Germany, which demonstrated a new instrument for the sensitive and specific detection of pathogens such as listeria, salmonella, and spoilage organisms in food.

The speakers, participants, and attendees of the conference made it one of the most successful symposiums in recent years. Said Vasavada, "It was the most successful in terms of attendance, in terms of participants, and in terms of the diversity of the audience."


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