CA Sea Grant Seafood Specialist to retire

May 19, 2013
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California Sea Grant Seafood Specialist Pamela Tom will retire on July 1, after nearly 40 years of outstanding service with the University of California.

Tom departs having made great contributions to safeguarding and improving the health and welfare of consumers throughout California, the United States and the world, through her dedication and expertise in outreach and education.

“Pam has been a critical player in the world in developing and maintaining seafood safety standards,” said California Sea Grant Director James Eckman. “She works with energy and enthusiasm and will be sorely missed.”

Tom is a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists, an honor bestowed on less than .3 percent of the institute’s professional members, and a past recipient of the institute’s Calvert L. Willey Distinguished Service Award. She has won the Atlantic Fisheries Technologists’ Earl P. McFee Award, which recognizes excellence in fishery technology involving all aspects of seafood science and technology, and in 2005 was awarded Technologist of the Biennium by the International Association of Fish Inspectors.

Along with others in the Sea Grant network, she has been a national leader in helping seafood businesses identify and prevent hazards that may cause food-borne illnesses. In this capacity, she is a former co-chair of the train-the-trainer program for the acclaimed Seafood HACCP (short for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) Alliance steering community.

In addition, Tom is a past president of the international Pacific Fisheries Technologists, past board member of the California Salmon Council and former steering committee member for the FAO’s Aquatic Food Program.

In a letter recognizing her service to the field of seafood science and technology, Michael McCarthy, chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, called Tom “the university’s de facto seafood safety and technology spokesperson” and noted the training materials she has developed, her published articles and her pioneering leadership in embracing internet technologies to reach and educate stakeholders.

Her website Seafood NIC, launched in 1997, was one of the world’s first seafood technology network information centers and has more than  25,000 monthly visitors today. Christina DeWitt, director of the Oregon State University Seafood Research & Education Center, will be administering the site after Tom retires.

Tom joined California Sea Grant in 1983 when she was hired by the then California Sea Grant Seafood Specialist Robert Price (deceased). After his retirement in 2003, she assumed sole duties of the program’s extension activities in seafood safety and technology transfer, leading several multi-state extension projects. These include a safe oyster campaign, a partnership with Georgia Sea Grant, funded by the National Sea Grant office and two U.S. Department of Agriculture-sponsored projects, one on the risks and benefits of seafood, the other on antibiotic residue in seafood.

Though her activities with California Sea Grant have been diverse through the years, Tom says she is most proud of  all the times she was able to help people. “I have really enjoyed coming to the rescue of people who need information to keep in business,” Tom said.

Mentoring students and watching them establish their own careers has been another highlight, she added.

Tom completed all her higher education and spent most of her career at UC Davis and prior to joining Sea Grant was a research associate in Cooperative Extension at UC Davis, working on issues related to consumer food marketing and fruit and vegetable processing.

Written by Christina S. Johnson,

About California Sea Grant

NOAA’s California Sea Grant College Program funds marine research, education and outreach throughout California. Our headquarters is at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; we are one of 33 Sea Grant programs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.