Last update :
Oct., 26th, 2012

Thomas E. Rippen, laureate of the 2012 Earl P. McFee Award

During the 56th Atlantic Fisheries Technology Conference in Cleawater Beach, Florida, in September, the 2012 Earl P. McFee Award Committee announced this year's highly deserving laureate: Thomas E. Rippen, who has been awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements and excellence in the field of seafood science and technology ncluding development in the industry and food safety.

Thomas E. Rippen, Seafood Technology Specialist at the Center for Food Science& Technology, University of Maryland, works with the seafood industry to address food science and technology issues that improve economic competiveness, food safety and regulatory compliance. His special areas of focus include crab processing, thermal processing and HACCP implementation.

Tom Rippen is widely recognized as the leading authority in the processing of swimming crabs. He established processing protocols and quality assurance procedures used by most of the industry worldwide. These procedures significantly improved the sensory quality of pasteurized
crabmeat. Current research on the application of pasteurization techniques for vacuum skin-packaged retail seafood offers an alternative to traditional cans and has attracted commercial interest for shellfish products in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Tom prepared model HACCP plans for processing and distributing fresh and pasteurized crabmeat used internationally by industry and for training. Tom revised the National Blue Crab Industry Pasteurization and Alternative Thermal Processing Standards for the National Blue Crab Industries Association under NFI which was adopted by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods. He provided guidance to the National Fisheries Institute and U.S. Food and Drug Administration resulting in revised recommendations saving seafood distributors unnecessary rejections of crabmeat at point of receipt due to minor temperature deviations not impacting food safety.

Tom developed a process for safely pasteurizing whole clams in vacuum pouches which has grown into a significant business.

Tom sought and received funding for the establishment of the National Histamine Training Team working with industry and regulators to prepare guidance for commercial fishermen and processors about histamine forming fish. This national collaboration with industry, regulators and academics recognizes the diversity in methods of harvest and handling of relevant fish species.

Tom works closely with the blue crab industry in the mid-Atlantic to improve the quality of fresh crabmeat.

Tom serves on the National Seafood HACCP Alliance Steering Committee, Editorial Committee and Train-the-trainer Committee. These committees significantly revised the HACCP training curriculum and developed a new course for training domestic and international trainers in HACCP systems and compliance with U.S. FDA regulations.

He is especially recognized for his expertise in sanitation and GMP controls.

Tom led an initiative for the Joint Institute of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) to develop an international Train-the-trainer program in Good Aquaculture Practices.

He has received several awards throughout his career.

The Earl P. McFee Award Committee was composed of Dr. Pierre Blier, Professor of biology, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Dr. Charles A. Crapo, Professor of seafood technology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Pamela Tom, Seafood Extension Program Manager, University of California at Davis, chairman of the committee.



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