The International Food Protection Training Institute is working to protect public health by working with the government to create an integrated national food protection system that ensures the safety of the U.S. food supply.


The launch of an inaugural training course this summer is a major step toward accomplishing that mission.


The institute will host its first training course, focusing on managing retail food safety, July 14-16 at the McCamly Plaza Hotel in Battle Creek, Mich.


"We've put together the whole plan, and it won't take long before this initiative turns international," said Gerald Wojtala, president of the Association of Food and Drug Officials and a founding member of the board of directors of the institute. "But the critical need we see is at the state and local levels. Budgets are tight and being slashed all over, and this is where the help is needed right now."


The Association of Food and Drug Officials, along with the Michigan Department of Agriculture, and the North Central Association of Food and Drug Officials, is working with the institute in presenting the training course, which is open to food safety regulators from all 50 states and local and tribal communities and territories. There is no registration fee.


Funding for the start-up of the program is being provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


On May 21, legislation was introduced by two Michigan state representatives (Mark Schauer and Fred Upton) and two senators (Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow) that would boost food protection measures and drive funding to the institute.


The course will be taught by Food and Drug Administration training officer Allen Gelfius.


"This year, we'll be offering courses that are already developed," Wojtala said. "Eventually, we'll expand it and develop our own curriculum."


The institute, formed last March, will offer additional courses between September and December, including courses on applications of basics of inspection and investigation and seafood hazard analysis.


"We expect to offer six courses by the end of the year," Wojtala said.


Registration information can be found at www.ifpti.org, or www.afdo.org.