Faith Critzer joined the faculty of WSU as the new Produce Safety Extension Specialist based in Prosser at the Irrigated Agriculture Extension and Research Center. Prior to joining WSU, Faith was a food safety extension specialist at the University of Tennessee. In that time, she was able to build a strong extension and research program that was geared towards providing science-based recommendations for individuals involved in food production across the continuum from growers to food manufacturers. This experience allowed her to build networks of collaborators necessary for multidisciplinary outreach and research questions, which she really sees as the key to success. While her focus was rather broad in her previous role at Tennessee, she really loved working with produce growers. With increasing regulatory and buyer demands, there is a lot of work to be done with respect to extension and research. That was one of the primary reasons why she was interested in her new role at WSU. Faith says that, “To be able to focus on an area that I’m so passionate about is wonderful.”
Faith is excited about joining a great food safety extension and outreach team who is doing wonderful work in the realm of produce safety. The collaborative ties between WSU, organizations like WTFRC and WSTFA, and the produce community in general, is a real asset that is not found in all states and she is looking forward to helping contribute to the group. She is looking forward to building a strong produce safety research program at the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, which is a completely new area of research supported at the center. As many of us know, there are so many gaps in knowledge with respect to bacterial foodborne pathogens and fresh produce. For these reasons, it is extremely difficult to provide evidence based best practices to growers. The goal of her research program will be to better understand the ecology of foodborne pathogens in the growing and harvesting environment; determine where risks are likely to occur during production, harvest and storage; and lastly, determine practical solutions that can be applied to mitigate these risks. In her previous work at Tennessee, she clearly understood the need to build strong teams with fellow food microbiologists, food chemists, fruit and vegetable horticulture specialists, agricultural engineers, and industry organizations and collaborators as a key to successful outcomes. Faith is really looking forward to making these connections in the coming years and getting to know everyone. Feel free to reach out to her at
email@example.com or 509.786.9370.
Written by Ines Hanrahan, WSTFRC.