When Ben Chapman arrived at N.C. State University in 2009 as the new food-safety specialist, he hit the ground running. Salmonella had been discovered in peanut butter products distributed from a Georgia peanut processor, and Cooperative Extension agents around the state were getting questions about which peanut butter products were safe to eat and which were not.
Chapman was uniquely positioned to obtain the latest information on the crisis and provide it to the field. He’s been involved in a number of projects, including updating agents on news regarding the Salmonella outbreak in peanuts, working with the Fresh Produce Safety Task Force, launching the food-safety component of Family and Consumer Sciences’ Cook Smart, Eat Smart curriculum and offering food preservation training to Extension agents.
Chapman focuses on finding the best ways to communicate food safety risk to the people who need to know. He is interested in how social media like Facebook and rapid communication technologies like Twitter might improve public safety around the issue of food risk.
Chapman developed food-safety info-sheets (www.foodsafetyinfosheets.com), one-page web-based fact sheets with information about the consequences of poor food handling practices — how they can lead to illnesses, destroy business reputations and result in lawsuits.
Ideally, he would like to see a widespread “food safety culture” that would include the entire farm-to-fork continuum — from farmers’ markets to church dinners; from farms to restaurants.