Originally published on October 13, 2017.
Food safety is one of the biggest challenges faced by the agriculture and trade industries in Lebanon, with high rates of foodborne illnesses year after year. Land O’Lakes International Development, an independent nonprofit affiliate of Land O’Lakes, Inc., is working to improve food safety and quality in Lebanon through its Farmer-to-Farmer Middle East and North Africa Program (F2F MENA). Land O’Lakes International Development is sending experts to strategic actors throughout the food system in Lebanon who can implementing changes in their respective sectors.
One of the major roadblocks to food safety is the lack of collaboration among actors throughout the food system. In June of 2017 Land O’Lakes International Development sent Dr. Patricia Pratt, Senior Manager, Enterprise Regulatory Affairs at Land O’Lakes, Inc. and an expert in global food laws and regulations, quality assurance and food safety, to recommend changes in areas of food safety and quality across the country. Dr. Pratt worked with five host organizations during her three week assignment, ranging from small private businesses to a government ministry.
One of the most impactful portions of Dr. Pratt’s assignment was leading a two-day workshop with the Ministry of Economy and Trade (MOET). The workshop connected local governments and academic institutions, sectors that have historically had limited collaboration. Hearing about Dr. Pratt’s experiences in food quality and risk assessments and the collaboration between sectors in the U.S. prompted discussion on future partnership opportunities with the common goal of improving food safety and quality in the country, resulting in Public Academic Cooperation (PAC) Initiative.
Dr. Patricia Pratt (left) and her host, Dr. Eli Bou Yazbeck, Nutrition & Food Safety Specialist at the Ministry of Economy and Trade.
“We established a collaborative relationship between the ministries and the Universities which had not previously existed. At the end of the workshop, we all realized that we were more alike than different,” Dr. Pratt says.
In addition to enhancing collaboration between government entities and academic instutitions, her breadth of expertise allowed her to lend her support in various ways to other types of organizations as well. She supported private businesses by evaluating the feasibility of a new incorporation business model for a family-owned dry-mix company; and reviewing food safety and quality protocols for a producer of jams, wines and beers. A nonprofit organization also benefitted from her expertise as she helped them to identify potential technical assistance needs for future F2F assignments. Finally, Dr. Pratt assisted a university program by offering guidance on establishing a food sensory program and is currently working on two potential partnerships for the University since her return to the U.S..
Expertise from dedicated volunteers like Patricia can have a widespread impact in places such as Lebanon. Land O’Lakes International Development is thankful for our partners from Land O’Lakes, Inc. for lending some of the company’s top talent and expertise on Farmer-to-Farmer assignments. F2F MENA and the host organizations that Dr. Pratt served thank her for generously volunteering her time in Lebanon.
F2F MENA is implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).