Schwarz joins UMES in food safety role | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

Schwarz joins UMES in food safety role

  • Dr. Melinda Schwarz-preferredPRINCESS ANNE, MD- (August 12, 2020)- The University of Maryland Eastern Shore welcomes back alumna and long-time resident of Salisbury, Dr. Melinda Schwarz, in the role of food safety specialist with UMES Extension

    In her new post, Schwarz will develop training strategies for small farmers to assist them in their compliance with the requirements outlined in the Produce Safety Rule established by the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act.  She will work with food producers, vegetable growers, poultry processors, new food entrepreneurs, UMES Extension educators and partner organizations through food safety programs.  In doing so, Schwarz will also cultivate relationships with state and federal agencies that are invested in implementing and evaluating food safety guidelines.

    “Dr. Schwarz brings to UMES Extension a familiarity with the university community and its constituents along with a wealth of knowledge and experience in teaching, food safety research and extension activities,” said Dr. E. Nelson Escobar, interim associate administrator for UMES Extension.  “She is a long-awaited addition to our team whose contribution will be valuable in years to come.”

    While pursuing a doctorate in food science and technology at UMES, Schwarz was the lead researcher in a study between the university and Wicomico County Public Schools to develop nutrition curriculum for high school family and consumer science classes.  The project focused on using knowledge combined with positive peer reinforcement and student ownership in the program to improve student nutrition behaviors, especially with regard to consumption of under-consumed vegetables and food safety practices.  Her dissertation based on the research findings was titled, “If They Cook It, They Will Eat It,” in collaboration with Dr. Salina Parveen, a professor in UMES’ Food Science and Technology program.

    Schwarz also spent three years in UMES Extension working in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program recruiting stakeholders and community members to participate in classes to improve nutrition behavior and food safety practices over time.  She also organized summer camps and scheduled nutrition assistants for the program.

    Most recently, Schwarz worked as an educator with the Salisbury School as a middle school math and science teacher establishing “creative classroom experiences to nurture students' love of learning, especially of science,” she said.  She was also a faculty member in UMES’ Hotel and Restaurant Management Program teaching food sanitation and at Wor-Wic Community College teaching normal and clinical nutrition.

    Her previous research interests during her pursuit of bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Rhode Island focused on seafood processing.  When she graduated, she worked for NORDSEE, a seafood subsidiary of Unilever in Germany, doing lab scale research and product development in pilot plants of seafood products.  One such product, a fish-based frozen food, was patented.

    Schwarz is now looking forward to resuming her career at UMES.

    “The food safety specialist position sounds exciting and challenging,” Schwarz said.  “Living on the Eastern Shore over the past 17 years, I developed an appreciation for Maryland products and the local seafood industry.  I am interested in developing, implementing and analyzing educational programs that will help clients learn practices that will produce the desired beneficial behavior changes in the area of processing, especially as it relates to food safety and regulatory compliance.”

    Gail Stephens, agricultural communications and media associate, School of Agricultural & Natural Sciences, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 410-621-3850,