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 Security 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 an urgent need for online education for food industry personnel who, while working fulltime, would like to pursue more in-depth specialized training in food safety and security that is pertinent to their job.

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 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 biosecurity issues.

Kansas State University, Iowa State University, University of Nebraska (Lincoln) and the University of Missouri have developed food safety and defense distance education courses and have established a multi-state agricultural consortium to develop and 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 Security Certificate and if they choose, to use those credits for subsequent degrees. Courses converted from the certificate to a degree program must meet University of Missouri department, college and graduate curricular guidelines.

Food Safety and Security Graduate Certificate Learning Outcomes

  1. Synthesize a current and multi-faceted picture of key food safety and security issues.
  2. Apply in real-world situations the scientific principles of microbial and chemical risk assessment and analysis related to food safety and security issues.
  3. Analyze and apply the concepts of HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) programs, as well as other safety and security approaches, in the management of food safety and security in food systems.
  4. Evaluate food safety and security 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, rapid food microbiological methods, food allergy and food fermentations 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. GRE general scores are required of all students. Undergraduate preparation should include emphasis in chemistry and biology or food science.

Courses and Seminars

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

Core Courses (minimum of 8-9 credits)

  • FDSCI 630 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.
  • FDSCI 690/ASI 690 HACCP (2 credit hours), Kansas State University
    A comprehensive study of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System and its application in the food industry.
  • FSHN 529 Foodborne toxicants (2 credit hours), Iowa State University
    Quantitation, metabolism and mechanisms of action of major foodborne toxicants. Toxicant defense and control systems, risk analysis and assessment and application of food laws. This course is currently in the development process.

Choose one:

  • FDSCI 600 Microbiology of Food (2 credit hours), Kansas State University
    This course deals with the identification, enumeration, and characterization of bacteria, yeast, and molds associated with foods and food processing. Effects of physical and chemical agents on microorganisms will be studied. Microbiological problems in food spoilage, food preservation, food fermentation, and foodborne diseases will be discussed.
  • FST 805 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.

Elective Courses (minimum of 3 credits)

  • FSHN 403 Food Laws and the Regulatory Process (2 credit hours) Iowa State University
    Prereq: 3 credits in food science coursework at 200 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. Nonmajor graduate credit.
  • FS 84XX Advanced Food Biotechnology (2 credit hours) University of Missouri
    Principles of food biotechnology, including introduction of molecular biology and enzyme immobilization. Theory and concepts of current biotechnology trends as it relates to food safety and security issues. This course is currently in the development process.
  • FDST 855 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.
  • Agronomy 570X Risk Assessment for Food, Agriculture, and Veterinary Medicine (same as VDPAM 570X) (3 credit hours) Iowa State University
    Prereq: Stat 104 or consent of instructors. 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.

Choose one:

  • FSHN XXX Rapid Methods in Food Microbiology (2 credit hours) Iowa State University
    Iowa State currently has a USDA National Needs grant to create a rapid methods course. Some components/modules from this course could be used to create an elective module for this grant. This course is currently in the development process.
  • FDSCI 713 Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology (2 credit hours), Kansas State University
    Rapid Methods and Automation is a dynamic area in applied microbiology dealing with the study of improved methods in the isolation, early detection, characterization, and enumeration of micro-organisms and their products in clinical, food, industrial and environmental samples. This workshop will focus on the practical application of conventional and new commercial systems of rapid identification of micro-organisms from medical specimens, foods, etc. On-campus short course.

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, Ph.D., Associate Professor
  • Email:
  • Telephone: 573-882-2649
  • Address: 256 William Stringer Wing, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211