David Stone, OSU public health toxicologist, is new head of Food Innovation Center

March 8, 2016
David Stone will take over as the new head of OSU's Food Innovation Center. Photo by Stephen Ward
David Stone will take over as the new head of OSU's Food Innovation Center. Photo by Stephen Ward

CORVALLIS, ORE. -- David Stone, an Oregon State University public-health toxicologist and communications expert, is the new director of OSU’s Food Innovation Center in Portland.

Stone, faculty member in the College of Agricultural Sciences and current director of the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), will start his new job on April 1. He succeeds Michael Morrissey, who is retiring after leading the center for nine years.

Dan Arp, Agricultural Sciences dean, said Stone’s background in toxicology and community outreach is a strong fit for his leadership of the center—a thriving incubator for food entrepreneurs who are turning Oregon’s agricultural bounty into marketable food products.

“Dave has worked at the interface of agricultural systems, business, government and communities for many years,” said Arp. “He’s also an educator and a communicator at heart. I expect him to excel in engaging with the center’s diverse stakeholders to promote and enhance our work.”

The center, on Portland’s Northwest Naito Parkway, is Oregon’s only big-city agricultural experiment station—one of a dozen such research centers across the state. The center offers technical solutions and consultation in product development and marketing, sensory testing and processing and packaging technologies.

Stone said one of his priorities will be to develop new capabilities and education programs to meet tougher food-safety mandates contained in a sweeping federal law, the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act.

The law specifies new standards and practices for food growers, processors and sellers. “It’s a chain of responsibility that emphasizes prevention,” Stone said. “Part of my job as director will be to ensure the center is current and relevant with the new law and to educate producers, processors and others about it.”

The law also authorized funding for new regional centers for food-safety training and education at OSU and four other universities nationwide. Additional funding from the state will support a new food-safety faculty member for the Food Innovation Center. “We hope to have someone on board this fall,” Stone said.

His long-term vision is “to ensure the center has the relevant mix of technical, educational and creative skills to keep doing what it does best: helping Oregonians to be successful in sharing our distinctive agricultural products and cuisine.”

Stone is also interested in folding community health goals into the center’s food development efforts. “For example, Ann Colonna, our sensory expert, has a state-of-the-art sensory program focused on low-sodium foods,” he said. “Our research chef, Jason Ball, is engaging with underserved communities around the Portland metro area. If you couple these faculty members with our talent pool in product development, food safety and economic analysis, we have a real opportunity to support healthy communities and a strong regional economy.”

Stone received his doctorate in toxicology from Oregon State University in 2001. Before his service at NPIC, he worked at the Oregon Health Division and collaborated extensively with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, an important partner with the Food Innovation Center.

The Food Innovation Center serves as many as 500 clients a year. Products launched with the center’s help include Red Hills Fruit Co. pie filling, Wheat Springs Bakery popped wheat berries, Kombucha Wonder Drink, Romano’s Italian Soda, Pacific Natural soups, and Salt & Straw Premium Ice Cream.

Morrissey, an expert on seafood processing, marketing and economic development, was honored by Oregon Business magazine in 2004 as one of Oregon’s “top 50 great leaders.”

“This is an exciting time,” Morrissey said. “Everyone is pleased with Dave’s appointment. He has great leadership skills, and I expect him to continue the success we’ve had and take the Food Innovation Center to a new level.”

Author: Gail Wells
Source: David Stone