College of Agricultural Sciences trains Ethiopians to detect dairy pathogens

June 26, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A two-week training on foodborne pathogen detection methods, focused on dairy, will help educators and government agencies in Ethiopia ensure the safety of dairy products in that country.

Ethiopians in the lab

The Ethiopian scientists were trained on the application of microbiological and molecular methods for the detection of foodborne pathogens. 

IMAGE: Penn State

The training was conducted by the laboratory of Jasna Kovac, assistant professor of food science in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, for representatives of Addis Ababa University and the Ethiopian Public Health Institute. Offered in the Rodney A. Erickson Food Science Building on the University Park Campus, the instruction was developed in collaboration with Jessie Vipham, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University.

The training was part of the ENSURE project awarded to Addis Ababa University by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom Department for International Development. The ENSURE project is focused on improvement of dairy food safety in Ethiopia. 

“This international project has a high potential for positive impact,” said Kovac. “Our ‘train the trainer’ workshop will help in the implementation of microbiological methods in a developing setting and aid in foodborne pathogen surveillance in the Ethiopian dairy supply chain. For example, the skills the participants acquired will help enhance the efforts of the Public Health Institute of Ethiopia in the area of foodborne pathogen surveillance.” 

The leader of the ENSURE project, Ashagrie Zewdu, of Addis Ababa University Center for Food Science and Nutrition, was excited about the training organized at Penn State. He said he believes the training has helped him and his colleagues acquire knowledge and skills needed for implementation of enhanced detection of foodborne pathogens in Ethiopia.

“I strongly agree with the saying ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime,’” Zewdu said. 

The Ethiopian scientists were trained on the application of microbiological and molecular methods for the detection of foodborne pathogens. Naomi Niyah, a Penn State doctoral degree candidate in the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences’ Molecular, Cellular, and Integrated Biosciences program, and Cassidy Prince, a microbiology major, co-developed and co-delivered the training. 

Prince will travel to Addis Ababa with Kovac in August to verify that pathogen-detection methods are being properly implemented. Prince said she believes she has gained perspective on food safety in developing nations by working with the Ethiopians. Hearing their stories, Prince noted, made it clear that Ethiopia struggles with foodborne pathogens. 

“A lack of effective food-safety practices has contributed to widespread malnutrition in Ethiopian children, so I hope that the students of our short course will return to Ethiopia and effectively implement their new knowledge to determine and encourage successful food-safety measures,” she said. “I look forward to seeing their progress when we visit Ethiopia in August.”


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 27, 2019