The Tennessee Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence is a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Health and various departments at the University of Tennessee.
The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) has participated in the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, or FoodNet, since 2000. FoodNet provides a foundation for food safety policy and prevention efforts. It estimates the number of foodborne illnesses, monitors trends in incidence of specific foodborne illnesses over time, attributes illnesses to specific foods and settings, and disseminates this information. As a FoodNet site, Tennessee conducts active, population-based surveillance for Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Yersinia, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), Vibrio, Cryptosporidium, and Cyclospora infections.
In 2010, TDH joined with other states and CDC to enhance foodborne disease outbreak investigation and response through FoodCORE activities. This FoodCORE funding has allowed coordinated, centralized, and rapid standardized interviewing of all diagnosed cases of infection with Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E.coli. Cases are interviewed as soon as they are reported without waiting for subtyping results or cluster analysis.
The TDH State Laboratory participates in both PulseNet and CaliciNet. PulseNet has connected foodborne illness cases together, using DNA "fingerprinting" in order to detect and define outbreaks. PulseNet has detected thousands of local and multi-state outbreaks since it began, leading to prevention opportunities and continuous improvements in our food safety systems that might not otherwise have occurred. Tennessee has participated in CaliciNet since 2009. CaliciNet is a network of public health and food regulatory laboratories that submit norovirus sequences indentified from outbreak into a national database. The information is used to link norovirus outbreaks that may be caused by common sources, monitor trends, and identify emerging strains. The TDH State Laboratory has been certified by CDC to participate in CaliciNet and serves as a regional outbreak support center.
The Center for Agriculture and Food Security and Preparedness (CAFSP) is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the safety of agriculture and the food supply through the conduct of investigation and research, and through the provision of high quality educational and training programs. The Center, under the direction of Dr. Sharon Thompson, combines the expertise of University of Tennessee faculty with other institutions across the country to address current issues related to food defense, food safety, foreign animal diseases, emergency preparedness, and more. The Center serves as a focal point for several key national initiatives to protect agriculture and the food supply from terrorist threats, and to promote safer food production and processing practices.
The University of Tennessee’s Department of Public Health prepares and mentors its students for exceptional careers in academia, public health research, administration and practice which promote optimal health of individuals and communities. The Department of Public Health offers the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, with three concentrations: Health Policy and Management, Community Health Education, and Veterinary Public Health. The Department also has dual degree programs with the Department of Nutrition at UT (MS-MPH in Public Health Nutrition) and with UT’s College of Law (JD-MPH), and a Graduate Certificate in Health Policy in partnership with the College of Nursing. The MPH program has been accredited since 1969, making it the first nationally accredited program outside a School of Public Health or Medicine. The Department also offers a PhD in Education with a concentration in Health Behavior/Health Education.
The University of Tennessee’s Department of Food Science and Technology, founded in 1972, is the only food science program in State of Tennessee. The Department provides both undergraduate (B.S.) and graduate (M.S. & Ph.D.) education in Food Science & Technology through the College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources. Most of the faculty lead national and international research programs focused on microbiological food safety and food biopolymer chemistry. The Department’s extension programs support the food industry and food business entrepreneurs in the state by transferring the latest research and providing training courses on safety, processing and regulatory compliance.