Federal panel on food safety includes three UF officials


Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 9:51 a.m.

As the nation grapples with a peanut butter recall, University of Florida officials are reviewing the role of the federal government in food safety.

Three members of a 12-person panel studying the issue hail from UF. The committee holds its first meeting Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Panel member Doug Archer, associate dean for research in food science and human nutrition, said he helped create a manual for the military to address food contamination. The manual is as an example of how to deal with foodborne illnesses, he said.

The peanut butter recall shows the value in marking products to allow their source to be tracked, he said.

"That's the holy grail," Archer said.

The other two UF officials on the panel are Emerging Pathogens Institute director Glenn Morris and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences special assistant to the dean for research Martha Roberts.

Financial Ray of Sunshine: In the midst of a stormy stock market, there was a ray of sunshine involving UF's endowment.

U.S. universities with endowments larger than $1 billion saw returns fall 20 percent from July 1 to Nov. 30, according to a new report by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

Losses nearly dropped UF's endowment below $1 billion. It stood at $1.001 billion at the end of November, down from $1.27 billion at the end of 2007.

A record-breaking December sent the endowment in the other direction. Nearly $65 million in donations were collected in the month, shattering the previous record of $47 million in December 2007.

UF Foundation spokesman Chris Brazda said December is typically a good month because of tax reasons, dismissing the idea that the record was linked to the Gator football team's success.

Donors are "planning these major gift decisions for years," he said.

Despite the record month, UF's endowment returns fell nearly 19 percent in the six-month period ending Dec. 31 prompting UF to cut endowment spending for the first time.

Salaries online: UF salary information has recently reappeared on the university Web site.

A reader e-mailed me last month to point out the information was taken down. It was removed at the request of Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Joe Glover, but he agreed to allow the information to be posted again, according to UF.

The information shows Glover and UF's other senior vice presidents are among the highest-paid employees.

Glover is paid about $300,000 a year, Senior Vice President for Food and Agricultural Sciences Jimmy Cheek is paid $304,000 and Senior Vice President for Health Affairs Doug Barrett is paid $548,000.

Cheek has left the position and Barrett is retiring in June. As for President Bernie Machen, he's paid about $416,000 but is also eligible for bonuses.

For a copy of the salary report, visit chalkboard.gainesville.com. News tips can be sent to nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com.

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