Leading Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) growers have begun joining together to establish the first food safety group geared specifically toward CEA produce brands. The goal of this group is to establish food safety standards to protect consumer health. The group will officially kick off with an inaugural meeting during the United Fresh co-located 2018 Expos taking place June 25-27 in Chicago, where they will begin to develop the coalition’s structure and food safety standards.

CEA growers including Brightfarms, AeroFarms and Little Leaf Farms have joined the coalition as founding members, with numerous others expected to join in the coming months.

"The growing methods in our industry are different as compared to centralized and long-distance field-grown produce. This coalition provides an opportunity for all brands in the space to collaborate in an effort to further protect consumers by establishing standards and sharing insights," says BrightFarms CEO Paul Lightfoot. "This is a critically important step in maintaining consumer confidence and supporting the growth of our industry."

Both the United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association have come forward to show their full support:

“There is a real need for a group of this kind that enables the industry to combine their collective learning to develop and advance food safety practices,” says Dr. Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh. “We frequently get questions from CEA growers with food safety in mind and this coalition will serve as a resource to not only these growers, but to all companies in the industry.”  

“By coming together, these leaders will advance food safety for controlled environment growers and for the fresh produce industry as a whole, which in turn will benefit consumers and public health,” says Bob Whitaker, Ph.D, Produce Marketing Association's chief science and technology officer. “They ask good questions about how to ensure their particular practices produce safe products, and have demonstrated they are willing to learn from and share ideas on risk- and science-based food safety with their open agriculture counterparts.”

“We take food safety very seriously and are proud to help lead this effort to elevate this critical topic not only for CEA growers, but also the industry overall including our retailer partners and ultimately the consumer,” says CEO David Rosenberg at AeroFarms.

The CEA produce industry is primarily made up of brands using hydroponic, aeroponic or aquaponic methods. All CEA produce organizations are invited to join the coalition to help shape the model and standard of food safety to protect consumer health. To join, please email ceafoodsafety@gmail.com.