Center for Produce Safety Provides Funding for 12 New Research Projects; Vic Smith, Joy Waite-Cusic, and Valentina Trinetta Comment
WOODLAND, CA - The Center for Produce Safety (CPS) has recently revealed a key investment in the food safety of the produce industry, announcing it has provided funding for 12 new research projects to help answer some of the industry's most pressing food safety questions. The 12 projects are collectively valued at just over $3.9 million.
"CPS thanks our Campaign contributors and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Programs in California, Florida, Texas, and Washington for their commitment to food safety," said Vic Smith, Chair of CPS's volunteer Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of grower-shipper JV Smith Companies. "CPS succeeds because of our very unique community—the contributors funding our work, the researchers answering our questions, the Technical Committee guiding them, and the Board of Directors that keeps us all focused on the mission: Fund the Science, Find Solutions, and Fuel the Change."
Among the topics included in the 12 projects are risk evaluation and mitigation of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella, Cyclospora control, and sanitation for harvesting bins and picking bags. Ranging from commodities such as leafy greens to tree fruit to onions, the research has been vetted by industry experts on the CPS Technical Committee and is ready to begin in this month.
Joy Waite-Cusic, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Oregon State University (OSU), is leading one of two CPS-funded onion research projects.
"Dry bulb onions have generally been considered a low-risk crop, but then the 2020 outbreak happened in the United States and, more recently, an outbreak associated with onions from Mexico," Waite-Cusic stated. "The United States outbreak investigation failed to identify the cause of Salmonella contamination. Our CPS project is designed to evaluate how specific industry practices, including water and clay applications, may contribute to widespread contamination and that could result in an outbreak."
Each of the projects' findings will be reported to the industry by researchers at CPS's annual Research Symposium and via CPS through other platforms, including the organization's website.
"Our research aims to develop science-based recommendations that will help improve cleaning and sanitation practices for harvesting operations while managing food safety risks tied to the sanitation of picking bags and harvesting bins for the tree fruit industry," first-time CPS-funded scientist and Kansas State University Associate Professor Valentina Trinetta, Ph.D., shared. "Our team is excited to get started!"
To view a list of the 2021 award recipients, click here.
The funds for the CPS research awards are provided by the Center for Produce Safety's Campaign Contributors, the Specialty Crop Block Grant programs in California Department of Food and Agriculture, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Texas Department of Agriculture.
What developments will come from this critical investment in produce food safety? Only time and AndNowUKnow will tell, so stay tuned.