The Florida Department of Health and UF have partnered to create a virtual food safety center.

The Food Safety Center of Excellence is one of five national centers working with public health agencies, according to a College of Public Health and Health Professions press release.

Each of the national centers has a partnership with a university and a state department of health.

Carina Blackmore, a Florida Department of Health state epidemiologist, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded UF and the state health department a $200,000 grant for the virtual center.

The national centers were established with the signing of the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act. The act calls for state and local participation to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks.

Michael Batz, head of food safety programs at UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, said the UF component of the center will include training, outreach and research.

UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will be working with the center.

Blackmore said in the future, there will be opportunities to learn more and become better at detecting outbreaks.

“In Florida, we have over 6,000 human cases of salmonella each year,” she said. “Many of the cases we investigate, we never find out exactly how they were infected.”

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