September 2020 - 1

A Q&A with
Rijk Zwaan's Eric
Market adjusts to
new normal during
Midwest Mechanical
Field Day goes virtual
this year
September 2020 | Volume 54 |
Issue 9
Food safety research enhanced by produce industry
Victor Smith's JV Smith Companies grows vegetables, especially leafy greens, in south-central Colorado; Yuma, Arizona; Salinas, California and Baja, Mexico. Photo: JVSmith Companies
By Stephen Kloosterman
Associate Editor
Growers need not wait on the
government for timely guidance to food
safety questions or concerns.
That's what industry veteran
Victor Smith sees as one of the
biggest benefits of the Center for
Produce Safety (CPS). The Woodland,
California-based nonprofit group in
just 14 years passed on $30 million
from growers and retailers to fund
produce-specific safety research from
researchers around the globe.
A large-scale grower-shipper of
vegetables, JV Smith Companies has
used the service a couple of times
to promptly determine risks to food
safety - one proved that dogs or
coyotes in a field could be a vector for
pathogens. And Smith continues to
sing the praises of the organization in a
new role as president of the nonprofit's
board of directors.
" It's become, in my humble,
possibly-biased opinion, the place,
where if you have a food safety
problem or concern, and you need
knowledge, the Center for Produce
Safety should be the first place you
look, " Smith said. The organization
continues to build past research to
create a body of knowledge guiding the
industry through potential pitfalls. " It's
ever-evolving and it's very responsive to
issues anywhere in the industry. I've seen
CPS be so nimble and so responsive. "
Filling an industry need
Produce, of course, presents special
food safety concerns because there's no
natural " kill step " for pathogens, such
as cooking or pickling, that occurs
before the fresh fruits and vegetables
being sold.
CPS was initially formed in 2007 in
response to an E. coli illness outbreak
that government officials linked to
bagged spinach. Packaged salads
company Taylor Farms and Produce
Marketing Association provided
substantial seed money to form the
nonprofit research organization. Since
that time, the CPS' research interests
have broadened
to include apples
during the
2014 Listeria
illness outbreak
linked to candy
apples, and even
some research for pistachio and almond
growers, Smith said.
" Grants are given based on how
relevant and how severe the potential
problem is, " he said. " I guarantee you,
the critical projects are funded. "
In the wake of the 2018 outbreak of
E. coli infections that were linked to
Romaine lettuce, agricultural water
contamination has become a key topic
See SAFETY, page 12

September 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of September 2020

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