William C. (Bill) Hurst
2004 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Extension
Department: Food Science and Technology
Dr. William C. (Bill) Hurst is an Extension Specialist and Professor in the Food Science and Technology Department at the University of Georgia. He has been a leader in the development of food safety training and workshop materials for the fresh and fresh-cut produce industries in Georgia for more than 20 years.
Dr. Hurst has initiated a number of nationally recognized programs over the past five years: (1) he created the Georgia State Fresh Produce Safety Team in 2000; (2) he developed the Georgia GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) Program in 2001; (3) he was the impetus for developing the Georgia GAP Food Safety Certification Program with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and other entities in 2002; and (4) he developed the first national GAPs short course tailored for the fresh produce industry in 2001. He is most proud of the Georgia GAPs Food Safety Program developed for Georgia produce growers, packers and shippers, which has saved thousands of dollars in third-party audit fees for the industry in our state, and has become a model for other states around the country that are working to establish similar programs. He was invited to share this program at an international symposium on Post-Harvest Handling of Fresh Produce in Bangkok, Thailand, this past summer, and later spoke in detail to Thai agricultural specialists about the GAPs procedures.
Dr. Hurst's work with the fresh-cut industry began almost 20 years ago. In 1991 he organized the first Sanitation Task Force to develop sanitation standards for the fresh-cut industry. He was the editor of the first and second editions (1992, 1993) and co-editor of the third edition (1996) Sanitary Guidelines for the Produce Processing Industry, published by NAFPP/IFPA. He was also a major contributor to the fourth (current) edition of Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh-Cut Industry.
In 1999, Dr. Hurst developed and held the first HACCP (food safety) short course geared specifically to the fresh-cut produce industry, which has been held annually at UGA ever since to an international audience. It is the only recognized food safety short course in the country specifically designed for fresh-cut processors. He was presented with the IFPA Outstanding Service Award in 1992 and 1993 for his leadership in developing the Sanitary Guidelines and was the third recipient of the prestigious IFPA Technical Award in 2000. He is the only academic person to date to receive this significant award.
One colleague characterized his contribution to the industry by saying that Dr. Hurst's efforts in food safety "have revolutionized the industry. He literally 'wrote the book' on sanitation guidelines for fresh-cut produce processing." He has also authored numerous technical Extension bulletins, book chapters, sanitation guidelines and workshop materials, in addition to developing and teaching Food Quality, HACCP and other Food Science academic courses at UGA each year.
Overall, Dr. Hurst's program efforts have generated sustainability and profitability for Georgia's fruit and vegetable industries, as well as significant health benefits to Georgia's citizens. He has also brought in numerous grants for research and development of training programs to UGA over the years. A $500 scholarship for a UGA Food Science student has been given annually in Dr. Hurst's honor by the Southeastern Food Processors Association since 2001.
In the words of one UGA Extension Service Program Development Coordinator, "Dr. Bill Hurst has met the challenge and in doing so, he has done one thing that all good Extension professionals strive to do - he has made a difference."