Researchers train Egyptian businessmen on food safety


As food safety receives more and more national attention, K-State researchers and food safety experts are working hard to train and educate beyond U.S. borders. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s foreign services has chosen K-State to be the host of instructional sessions to a group of Cochran Fellows from Egypt.

The program, which started Friday and will continue until Tuesday, consists of a series of lectures and field trips to different sites in Manhattan and throughout northeast Kansas.

Justin Kastner, assistant professor of food safety and security, and Doug Powell, associate professor of food safety, will train the group of four Cochran Fellows.

The Cochran Fellows will be instructed on food safety-related legislation, food borne illness prevention, international regulations and import-export controls.

“Food safety does not respect borders, and we are committed in helping other countries build capacity in the important areas of food safety, food security and trade-policy development,” Kastner said.

Megan Hardigree, research assistant with the One Health Kansas Program, and Edward Nyambok, research assistant with K-State’s Frontier program, are also helping with the program.

“Some topics we have been discussing include the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] regulations on imports and the bio-terrorism part of food safety, just to name a few,” Nyambok said.

Though this is the first time visitors from Egypt have been through this program, it is not the first time the program has taken place at K-State. Last year, through the USDA, campus officials trained individuals from Thailand. Kastner said the program shares experiences and ideas across borders and that K-State will continue to apply to be part of this program.

The visiting Cochran Fellows are Mahmoud Hewedi, Medhat Garas, Mohamed Ahmed and Ashraf Abdalla.

“It has been a very good experience and we are very grateful. We have been taught by very knowledgeable colleagues and it is a very enjoyable time exchanging experience and knowledge,” Hewedi, a consultant for Halayeb Company for Dairy Products & Juice, said.

Hewedi said food safety is a critical issue socially, economically and heath-wise.

“There is a saying that my grandmother used to say: ‘Most people, regardless of where they are from, are a lot like you.’ And this is true — many of the issues we deal with in the United States are similar to the issues our visitors face in Egypt,” Kastner said.