ARLINGTON, Va. – The Food Marketing Institute Board of Directors has approved creating The Center of Excellence for Food Safety and Protection. It will serve as a resource for food safety and protection information, initiatives and programs to support FMI members, the food and consumer products industry and consumers.

Jill Hollingsworth, DVM, was promoted to FMI senior vice president and will lead the center. She previously served as group vice president of food-safety programs. Prior to joining FMI, Dr. Hollingsworth worked at the US Department of Agriculture for 15 years where she was responsible for a wide variety of scientific activities including outbreak investigations, recalls and public health policy. Working in conjunction with Dr. Hollingsworth will be Rhett Asher, FMI vice president of industry relations, who will share his expertise in asset protection and loss prevention to the success of the center.

“Food safety is a priority for retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. The Center of Excellence for Food Safety and Protection will create a valuable benefit for members as they address all aspects of food safety and protection within their companies,” said Leslie Sarasin. FMI president and CEO. “The center will serve as a resource to consolidate our knowledge of food safety and strengthen our commitment to ensuring that the food we sell is as safe as possible.”

FMI said the new center will bring together food-safety experts and professionals from government relations, asset protection, food defense, supply chain management, health and wellness, sustainability and industry relations to address all aspects of food safety.

The collaboration will generate information on the safety of the food supply from farm to table, the association continues. It will focus on support, services and tools to help members address food safety and protection, including the development of prevention programs, enhanced public/private partnerships, strengthened collaborations, crisis management and stronger response and recovery plans.

“All of us in the food industry hold the same expectation as our customers – that the food we bring home to our families is safe,” said Danny Wegman, Wegmans CEO and chairman of the FMI board food-safety committee. “The Center of Excellence for Food Safety and Protection will provide us with access to the most timely information and resources related to food safety so we can maintain our goal of providing safe food in our stores.”

Other resources related to food and agriculture infrastructure, such as intentional adverse events, animal-welfare issues and emergency preparation and response plans, will also be available through the center.

The center will report to the FMI Board-level Food Safety Committee. FMI membership committees and councils, including the Food Protection Committee and Homeland Security Committee, will provide guidance to the center.