Otwell Receives Vice President’s Hammer Award For Excellence

By:
Jay Humphreys (352) 392-2801

GATLINBURG, TN — Steve Otwell, professor of seafood technology with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, received Vice President Al Gore’s National Performance Review Hammer Award for leadership of a new nationwide seafood safety training program. The award was presented during ceremonies in Gatlinburg, TN on September 22.

Otwell, who serves as seafood technology specialist for the Florida Sea Grant program, is national coordinator of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP, pronounced HASS-ip) training program to help seafood processors and inspectors comply with new federal food safety regulations.

The Hammer Award is derived from the mythical $600 hammers purchased by a government agency some years ago. In this case the Hammer Award consists of a $6.00 hammer tied with a ribbon and a signed card from the Vice President, all mounted in an aluminum frame.

The award recognizes programs that achieve “new standards of excellence” in government and “partnerships that make a significant contribution to the nation.” It was presented to Otwell by Linda Walker, director of the Vice President’s National Performance Evaluation Project to promote efficiency in government service and departments.

Since September 1996, Otwell’s Sea Grant program has trained more than 350 instructors who are qualified to educate others on HACCP seafood safety measures. As a result of these efforts, 220 training courses have been conducted reaching more than 3,500 individuals involved in seafood production or regulation. It is anticipated that more than 5,000 people, representing 80 percent of the seafood industry, will graduate from HACCP training courses before the new regulations go into effect on December 18.

HACCP is becoming the world standard for food safety. It’s required by the European Union and is widely used in Canada.

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