Though our celebrations may be smaller and closer to home this holiday season, food will still be the centerpiece of many festivities. In a year where we’re trying our best to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy, the safety and nutrition of our food is more important to our well-being than ever.
USDA works hard to ensure your celebratory meals are nutritious and safe, be it developing fruit and vegetable varieties for healthy eating options or providing food safety information for the turkey that you safely thawed and cooked. Recently, more than 150 USDA professionals from the Agricultural Research Service, National Institute for Food and Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, Food and Nutrition Service, and Food Safety and Inspection Service met virtually to discuss ways to improve the food on American tables. The USDA Intradepartmental Food Safety and Nutrition Workshop, hosted by USDA’s Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS), built on the success of previous workshops while doubling attendance.
Even in the virtual setting, the workshop was a unique opportunity for strategic planning on emerging themes in food safety and nutrition including older adult nutrition, nutrition promotion and education, personalized diets (precision nutrition), big data usage, food safety practices, and sustainable agriculture and environmental adaptation. Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, Dr. Scott Hutchins and OCS Director, Dr. Dionne Toombs kicked off the event before Dr. Pamela Starke-Reed provided an overview of the USDA Science Blueprint (PDF, 2.6 MB). The Blueprint outlines USDA’s science priorities over the next five years, one of which is Food and Nutrition Translation. Keynote presenters highlighted each of the themes, which fed into two deep-dive breakout sessions. In those sessions, participants defined priorities, identified gaps and overlaps, and looked for collaborative opportunities in areas at the forefront of food safety and nutrition science.
USDA is committed to “Do Right and Feed Everyone.” Our coordinated science efforts across the Department will help keep safe and nutritious food at your holiday celebrations for years to come.