May 14, 2021

6 W’s of Groundbreaking Food Safety Data Sharing Project

By De Ann Davis, Senior Vice President, Science

Western Growers is partnering with Creme Global—a leading scientific modeling, data analytics, and computing company—to create a comprehensive food safety data-sharing tool. The project begins with a focus on pre-harvest pathogen testing data and other meta-data, which is collected from participating growers autonomously and anonymously to improve and enhance food safety management.

WHO: The project is under development with six leafy greens growers—all of whom are WG members. Once a food safety dashboard is built, all WG members will be eligible to engage with the digital tool and access the dashboard.

WHAT: The end result will be an easy-to-use online tool that is flexible to crop and geographical location. The tool is designed to advance and learn from shared data and will show participating growers the power of their data as well as the power of their collective data in food safety.

– Goal 1: Provide fresh produce growers a private version of the dashboard combined with an ability to benchmark their food safety efforts.

– Goal 2: Provide insight into food safety practices across the industry as a whole.

WHEN: We are currently in phase 1 of the 3-phase timeline.

– Phase 1: Data Collection

   Creme Global is collecting pre-harvest information from the six pilot program participants, combining it with other key data sets like weather and geographical mapping, and will use this data to build a tool that provides context to pre-harvest testing data.

– Phase 2: Developing an Interactive, Grower-Friendly Dashboard

   The six pilot program participants will steer the development of the dashboard and app. This includes weighing in on what features matter most as well as the functionality of the dashboard and app.

– Phase 3: Analyzing the Aggregated Data

o   BENCHMARKING: Users of our new food safety tool will have the ability to compare their food safety management to similar growing operations and assess their performance. Previously unanswerable questions can now be addressed, such as “how do my testing frequency and results compare to other farmers growing the same crop” and “are similar growers doing a better job to adhering to their pre-harvest standard operating procedures than my operation?”

o INDUSTRY INSIGHT: The data, which has all been fully anonymized and de-identified, will be combined and simplified to answer testing-type questions such as “how many tests were done during September on romaine lettuce?” and “of those tests, how many were done within 3 days of harvest?”

o WIDESPREAD ANALYSIS: Once a substantial amount of data is gathered, WG will be able to run industry reports to show participating growers and stakeholders essential information and trends. For example, this model system will allow farmers to identify trends in water quality across a region or a specific water district and to plan accordingly.

WHERE: Online! The platform will be accessible from your computer and phone.

WHY: Currently, there’s no standardized way for growers to look at how their neighbors are operating in terms of food safety. This project will allow growers to understand how they are doing as well as understand the performance of similar operations – all anonymously.

– Your Data is Yours: Neither WG nor any other participants will be able to see your data or your dashboard; only you can. When you submit your data for aggregation and big-picture analyses, all data will be coded without identifying information, such as names or companies. The database is fully private and you can withdraw your data at any point.

– No Additional Resources Needed: We are making the tool as automated as possible, so sharing your data will be simple and easy.

HOW: When the tool is rolled out widely, WG members desiring to participate will have an annual fee of $1,500. This includes a one-on-one consultation with Creme Global to set up the best and easiest way for you to share your data. You will also have 24/7 access to crucial data needed to enhance food safety operations.

Western Growers is THE FIRST to embark on this type of expansive project. This monumental collaboration, if accomplished, will not only benefit our members but the ag industry, the research community and government sectors. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has provided us with an official letter of support, stating that this project is in line with their vision of the future of food safety.

For this Creme Global Food Safety Data Sharing Tool to be successful and provide benefit, significant participation from fresh produce growers is needed. We urge you to embark on this journey with us.