New Report Helps Industry Apply Produce Safety Research

A new report released by Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and Western Growers aims to help produce industry members understand the latest food safety research and how to apply key findings to their day-to-day operations. The report summarizes and interprets research presented at the third annual Center for Produce Safety (CPS) Research Symposium held June 27, 2012, at the University of California, Davis, Calif. Covered in the report are results from 18 CPS-funded projects in four separate areas of  Good Agricultural Practices: Buffer Zones and Animal Vectors; Irrigation Water Quality; Inputs, Cultivation and Harvest; and Wash Water and Process Control.

“It can be frustrating for non-scientists to identify key findings in research reports,” says Dr. Bob Whitaker, PMA chief science & technology officer and chair of the CPS Technical Committee. “We hope this report helps people from all over our industry understand what this research means and how it might be used in their own food safety programs.”

The CPS was founded in 2007 by PMA, Taylor Farms and other industry, government, scientific and academic partners as a collaborative effort to deliver science-based food safety research for the produce industry. Having funded 69 projects totaling $10.6 million since 2008, CPS is recognized for their partnering in research programs; linking scientists with stakeholders and their scientific research funding process, research project management, translation of scientific data into everyday use for produce operations and industry outreach.

Co-authored by Whitaker and Hank Giclas, senior vice president, strategic planning, science & technology, Western Growers, the report is organized to include an executive summary describing key research trends, a review of each research project and an interpretation of what the findings mean for growing, harvesting and processing operations. Observations and recommendations regarding industry issues and opportunities and a review of several emerging food safety tools demonstrating potential benefit for the industry are also featured.

“The ‘practical guide’ is a tool to transfer information from the academic community to users and lay persons,” said Giclas. “We are pleased to work with PMA to continually improve and enhance the fresh produce industry’s preventive practices and programs.”

Whitaker adds, “Research is important, but it’s what you do with that research that is critical for improving the safety of produce.”

The 2013 CPS Research Symposium will be on June 25-26 in Rochester, N.Y. at the Wegmans Conference Center.  The conference will present 16 new research-program reports by CPS-funded scientists. The agenda is currently being finalized by CPS; look to cps.ucdavis.edu for details as they emerge.

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