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CPS Announces Food Safety Research Grants

DAVIS, Calif. — The Center for Produce Safety at the University of California, Davis, announced award grants for 10 new food safety research projects including one cantaloupe-specific project, the agency announced on Monday.

The research projects all deal with fruit, vegetables and tree nut production, harvest and post-harvest handling.

After last year’s listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupes from Colorado-based Jensen Farms, which sickened 146 and caused 30 deaths, the produce industry said it planned to work with CPS to fund cantaloupe food safety research, as well as develop cantaloupe-specific guidance through webinars.

The funded cantaloupe research project, “Novel coating systems with sustained release of food antimicrobials to improve safety of cantaloupe,” will be led by Qixin Zhong, University of Tennessee.

Other funded research project topics include tree fruit storage bin sanitation, the prevention of transferring pathogens from animals to vegetable crops and how to validate the surface pasteurization of netted melons.

Read more: PMA, Western Growers Partner on Food Safety Task Force

“The research being conducted at CPS is applicable to all points of the supply chain — farmers, shippers, handlers and consumers. CPS’s collaboration with its Partners in Research demonstrates what is possible when we work together to share knowledge to help keep fresh produce safe,” said Stephen Patricio, CPS advisory board chairman, in a statement. “I encourage industry stakeholders to fund the Center for Produce Safety research program to continue filling knowledge gaps.”

CPS Partners in Research include the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, the California Leafy Greens Research Board, CPS Campaign for Research and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.

CPS’s wash water research will be presented at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit Conference and Expo in Anaheim, Calif., Oct. 26-28.

Read more: Industry Out Front With Food Safety Programs

“Food safety continues to be top of mind for consumers and industry leaders worldwide,” says Bryan Silbermann, PMA president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

“PMA’s donation of more than $3 million over the last five years, along with our continued involvement in education and training around the globe, demonstrates our commitment to CPS and continuous improvement for the entire industry in food safety. CPS isn’t just for the U.S. It’s global and it is a great investment in the future of our industry regardless of where you grow or do business.”

Silbermann will be recognized with an “Award of Distinction” and as a “Friend of the College” by the University of California, Davis, on Oct. 5, for his role in establishing the CPS following the E. coli spinach outbreak in 2006.

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