Food Safety and Defense Graduate Certificate Program

An interinstitutional certificate offered in cooperation with Kansas State University Food Science Institute, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Food Science and Iowa State University Food Science programs.

Background Information

By providing a distance education Food Safety and Defense certificate program, we will serve the needs of industry and agencies that must protect the human food supply from accidental or deliberate contamination with pathogenic microbes and/or toxicants. In an era of terrorism and global food systems, effective control of foodborne hazards requires advanced education. There is a real need for online education that is accessible to food industry personnel who, while working fulltime, would like to pursue more in-depth specialized training in food safety and defense that is pertinent to their job. This certificate program is also valuable to students currently pursuing graduate degrees in Food Science or related fields who wish to gain highly relevant supplemental information that will make them more marketable upon graduation.

Many food-related industry and agency professionals have a B.S. in some aspect of food and agricultural sciences or related area along with good technical background and work experience. But they may not be able to pursue a full graduate degree, due to expense, time constraints, physical location and/or interests. These needs warrant the development of a program to prepare graduate students and food-related professionals to effectively deal with food safety and defense issues.

Kansas State University, Iowa State University, University of Missouri, Columbia, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln have developed food safety and defense distance education courses and have established a multi-state agricultural consortium to deliver high-priority collaborative distance education programs in the food and agricultural sciences.

This proposal allows students to earn the non-degree Food Safety and Defense Graduate Certificate and if they choose, to use those credits for subsequent graduate degrees. Courses converted from the certificate to a degree program must meet the University of Missouri department, college and graduate curricular guidelines.

Food Safety and Defense Graduate Certificate Learning Outcomes

  1. Synthesize a current and multi-faceted picture of key food safety and defense issues.
  2. Apply in real-world situations the scientific principles of microbial and chemical risk assessment and analysis related to food safety and defense issues.
  3. Analyze and apply the concepts of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) programs, as well as other safety and defense approaches, in the management of food safety and defense in food systems.
  4. Evaluate food safety and defense issues in the food industry using the perspectives of sound science, critical thinking and ethical reasoning.

Food Safety and Defense Certificate Requirements

The online certificate includes a minimum of 12 credits (8-9 credits in core courses and at least 3 elective credits) on topics including food microbiology, foodborne toxicants, HACCP, food safety and security overview, food laws, risk assessment, food biotechnology, food fermentations and ethnic food safety with each participating university offering at least one course on a regular basis, and each university cross-listing all courses.

Students must meet admissions requirements for the Master of Science degree in Food Science or equivalent degree at their respective universities. A tuition disbursement framework as in operation for the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA) consortium will be used. Certificate enrollments of 20-25 students per year are anticipated, with time to completion of 2-3 years (1-2 courses per semester). See the Great Plains IDEA for further information.

Admission standards and prerequisites for the certificate program.

Successful applicants must be a graduate of an accredited institution and normally must rank in the upper quartile (3.0 grade point average) of their class to gain admission. Undergraduate preparation should include emphasis in chemistry and biology or food science.


Core and Elective Courses (minimum of 12-13 credit hours total).

Core Courses (minimum of 8-9 credits)

  • F_S 7370 Food Microbiology (3 credit hours), University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Prereq: microbiology, organic chemistry, biochemistry or permission. Nature, physiology, and interactions of microorganisms in foods. Introduction to foodborne diseases, the effect of food processing systems on the microflora of foods, principles of food preservation, food spoilage, and foods produced by microorganisms. Food plant sanitation and criteria for establishing microbial standards for food products.
  • F_S 8303 A Multidisciplinary Overview of Food Safety and Security (2 credit hours), Kansas State University
    This course provides students with an overview appreciation and understanding of the many multidisciplinary aspects of food safety and security. Such an overview will inform and enhance preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery related activities.
  • F_S 8304 HACCP (2 credit hours), Iowa State University
    A comprehensive study of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System and its application in the food industry.
  • F_S 8406 Foodborne Toxicants (2 credit hours), University of Nebraska-Lincoln Quantitation, metabolism and mechanisms of action of major foodborne toxicants. Toxicant defense and control systems, risk analysis and assessment.

Elective Courses (minimum of 3 credits)

  • F_S 7350 Microbiology of Fermented Foods (2 credit hours) University of Nebraska_Lincoln
    Physiology, biochemistry, and genetics of microorganisms important in food fermentations. How microorganisms are used in fermentations and the effects of processing and manufacturing conditions on production of fermented foods
  • F_S 7351 Food Laws and Regulations (2 credit hours) Iowa State University
    Prereq: 3 credits in food science coursework at 2000 level or above. History of the development of the current federal and state food regulations. Guidelines that govern the practice of regulating the wholesomeness of red meats, poultry, and eggs. Presentations by state and federal food regulators.
  • F_S 8301 Ethnic Foods: Food Safety, Food Protection and Defense Challenges (2 credit hours) University of Missouri, Columbia
    Factors that impact the safety of ethnic and imported ethnic foods, science-based characterization of popular and emerging ethnic foods and ingredients, FSMA and its impact on ethnic and imported ethnic foods.
  • F_S 8404 Advanced Food Microbiology and Biotechnology (2 credit hours) University of Missouri, Columbia
    Principles of food biotechnology, including introduction of molecular biology, genetic and protein engineering and nanotechnology. Theory and concepts of current biotechnology trends as related to food safety and security issues. Factors that impact the safety of ethnic and imported ethnic foods, science-based characterization of popular and emerging ethnic foods and ingredients, FSMA and its impact on ethnic and imported ethnic foods.
  • F_S 8408 Risk Assessment for Food, Agriculture, and Veterinary Medicine (3 credit hours) Iowa State University
    Prereq: Stat 7070 or consent of instructor. Risk assessment principles as applied to biological systems. Exposure and effects characterization in human and animal health and ecological risk assessment. Risk analysis frameworks and regulatory decision-making. Introduction to quantitative methods for risk assessment using epidemiological and distributional analyses. Uncertainty analysis.

Note: Each participating university will cross-list the other university course offerings as part of their course offerings. It is possible that a student may already have taken one or more of these courses or their equivalent on another graduate degree or certificate program. Upon approval by the Director of Certificate Studies, 2 hours of credit could be accepted toward the 12-hour minimum required for this certificate.

Food Safety and Defense Certificate Faculty

Food Safety and Defense Certificate faculty at the University of Missouri, Columbia:

  • Azlin Mustapha, PhD, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
    • Email:
    • Telephone: 573-882-2649
    • Address: 246 William Stringer Wing, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211
  • Lillian Po, PhD, Associate Adjunct Professor