Each year, food safety company SmartWash Solutions™ engages and educates college students on food safety science through its annual internship program. The company said it shares its knowledge with the next generation of food safety experts through these internships.
"Students play an integral role in expanding the size and scope of research we perform," said Eric Wilhelmsen, senior research consultant and internship program lead. "In addition to executing experiments, the interns learn best practices for conducting research and improving food safety."
SmartWash provides a flexible curriculum custom-fit to the students’ experience, which in turn means that interns have the opportunity to provide hands-on support in real-time experiments conducted by the team. Interns assist with everything from research to operations, including implementing planned experiments, analyzing and interpreting experiment results, and maintaining the quality control of experiment processes—all vital aspects of successful research.
According to the company, the internship program has proved to be a valuable teaching tool for the science behind food safety, working with students to inspire the next generation of professionals in the agriculture industry.
"The internship has helped me understand the importance of food safety not only in the actual processing/packing facility, but also when it comes to the soil and growing of crops," said intern Aida Lopez, a biochemistry student at UC Santa Cruz.
"Interning at SmartWash Solutions helped me understand the importance of food safety in the produce community," said Luz Hernandez, student at Hartnell College in Salinas. "I have seen how seemingly small projects ultimately have an impact on the larger picture of food safety."
"The internship has shown me the crucial role that SmartWash plays in preventing foodborne illness outbreaks in processed food and how important food safety is in the produce community," shared Hartnell College student and intern Isai Molina.
"The interns not only contribute to experiments that help improve the safety of ready-to-eat foods, but their participation in the program benefits the industry as a whole," added Wilhelmsen. "The process of designing, conducting and leading experiments and then discussing the results gives them a better understanding of the ethics of science while increasing confidence in their abilities, preparing them to be more effective leaders and researchers in the industry."
Over the past 7 years the program has educated over 30 students, with many of them continuing their careers at SmartWash Solutions or progressing to post-graduate studies, taking the dedication and knowledge of food safety learned at SmartWash with them.