Date: Mar 08, 2011
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A new report released by Western Growers and Produce Marketing Association (PMA) provides valuable insight into produce-specific food safety research findings presented at the Center for Produce Safety’s first-ever Research Symposium in June 2010. The report lays out key findings from – and real-world applications of – CPS’s first 11 research projects in practical and comprehensible terms.

“This document provides straightforward value by outlining not only the technical findings but also translating the findings into real-world application,” says PMA’s President & CEO Bryan Silbermann. “The findings of these research projects are instrumental to our work in the food safety arena and it is important for industry members to understand what came out of the research and symposium.”

PMA and Western Growers collaborated on documenting findings delivered at the symposium to help industry members grasp the implications of the research. “The symposium significantly added to our industry’s science-based research knowledge, and this report helps deliver those findings to industry members and other interested parties who couldn’t be there in person,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers.

The projects range from looking at movement of E. coli O157:H7 in field-inoculated lettuce to examine its survivability in real field production environments. Other research also looked at enhancing the effectiveness of and evaluating pathogen testing systems. The role of different pathogen vectors and their food safety risk was examined in projects looking at fly reservoirs and leafy greens, sheep grazing in vegetable stubble fields, and how to minimize pathogen transfer during lettuce harvesting.

“Each of the 11 projects has numerous crucial points that warrant detailed study, thus our collaboration on this report,” says Hank Giclas, senior vice president of strategic planning, science and technology for Western Growers. “Some of the notable general findings include evidence that pathogens do not survive well in the production environment, pathogens do not seem to move through the soil and that improper composting can result in pathogen survival. It is now incumbent upon us all to translate these learnings into practical guidelines for the industry.”

“The value of the findings presented at the CPS symposium lies in their ability to help us identify and manage the risks we deal with every day,” says PMA Chief Science & Technology Officer Dr. Bob Whitaker. “The What Does It Mean for You sections in the report were designed specifically to help industry members implement food safety changes based on the research findings. For example, the research indicates that LGMA buffers appear to work and that simple modifications to lettuce coring knives may significantly reduce the risk of pathogen contamination.”

PMA founded CPS in 2007 along with the University of California at Davis, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and Taylor Farms. PMA has provided nearly $3 million to fund the center’s operations for its first four years. The association also contributes in-kind the work of Whitaker, who chairs the center’s Technical Committee and is a member of the center’s Executive Committee. That committee establishes the center’s research priorities and directs its granting of research funds.

The 11 projects featured in the symposium resulted from the initial CPS request for proposals (RFP) in mid-2008 and a second RFP issued jointly by CPS and the California Leafy Greens Research Board in late 2008. To date, CPS has funded 41 research projects across a broad spectrum of food safety research areas and commodities totaling $6.8 million. For more information about CPS, visit http://cps.ucdavis.edu.

The report is now available to PMA members at www.pma.com, or to Western Growers’ members at www.wga.com. The report was prepared to provide guidance and a meaningful summary of the 11 research reports discussed during the CPS symposium, and does not constitute legal advice nor does it supersede any regulations.

CPS will host its second annual Produce Research Symposium June 24 in Orlando, Fla., USA. For more information, visit CPS’s website. PMA is a Platinum Sponsor of that event.

About Produce Marketing Association (PMA)

Founded in 1949, the Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association representing nearly 3,000 companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. Members rely on PMA year round for the business solutions they need to increase sales and consumption, build strong professional relationships, and expand their business opportunities. For more information, visit www.pma.com.

About Western Growers Association (Western Growers)

Western Growers (www.wga.com) is an agricultural trade association whose members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship 90 percent of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in California and 75 percent of those commodities in Arizona. This totals about half of the nation’s fresh produce. Western Growers is headquartered in Irvine, Calif.

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