To help answer the fresh produce industry’s most urgent food safety questions, the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) has distributed $3.9 million to fund 14 new research projects.
Among other topics, the 14 projects being funded by CPS aim to explore the food safety implications of leafy greens production in controlled (indoor) environments, to evaluate and mitigate risks posed by Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella, and to advance Cyclospora detection. Researchers’ proposals were vetted by industry experts on the CPS Technical Committee and other expert volunteers to ensure that the resulting science will best meet industry needs.
One of the 14 projects has already commenced, and the remaining 13 projects will begin in November 2022 and January 2023. All of the research projects will be completed within two years. Findings will be reported to industry by researchers at CPS' annual Research Symposium, as well as through summaries posted to CPS's website and monthly CPS emails.
A complete list of the projects and links to their abstracts is as follows:
- Ana Allende, Ph.D., CEBAS-CSIC Campus of Espinardo, Spain: “Occurrence and Transfer of Pathogens from the Production Environment to Leafy Greens Grown in Controlled Environment Agriculture”
- Alejandro Castillo, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research: “Using Novel Methods to Study Routes and Mechanisms for Distribution and Establishment of Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria spp. In Avocado Packing Environments” (commenced in April 2022)
- Malak Esseili, Ph.D., University of Georgia: “Optimizing Methods for the Detection and Quantification of Infectious Human Norovirus from Fresh Berries Using Human Intestinal Enteroids”
- Kristen Gibson, Ph.D., University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture: “Microbial Risks During Indoor Leafy Green Production: Current Knowledge and Future Research Needs”
- Asis Khan, Ph.D., the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service: “A Viability Assay for Cyclospora and Its Surrogates Eimeria”
- Jenny Maloney, Ph.D., USDA Agricultural Research Service: “Development of an Infrared-Functionalized Microbalance Sensor for Cyclospora Cayetanensis Detection and Differentiation”
- Channah Rock, Ph.D., University of Arizona “Microbiological Risk Assessment Using QMRA in Preharvest Agriculture Water Treatment Systems for Leafy Greens”
- Matthew Stasiewicz, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: “Flexible Risk Process Models to Quantify Residual Risks and the Impact of Interventions”
- Laura Strawn, Ph.D., Virginia Tech: “A Metagenomic Approach to Food Safety Risk Mitigation in Pears”
- Pilar Truchado Gambao, Ph.D., CEBAS-CSIC Campus of Espinardo, Spain: “Evidence for the Industrial Application of Bacteriophages to Control Listeria Monocytogenes in Leafy Greens”
- Mohit Verma, Ph.D., Purdue University: “Testbeds for Microbial Source Tracking Using Microfluidic Paper-Based Analytical Devices”
- Qixin Zhong, Ph.D., University of Tennessee: “Supplementing Food Antimicrobials in Commercial Edible Coatings to Enhance the Safety and Extend the Shelf-Life of Stone Fruits”
- Meijun Zhu, Ph.D., Washington State University: “Control of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes on Peaches Through Spray-Bar Brush Bed Sanitizer Intervention”
- Meijun Zhu, Ph.D., Washington State University: “Interaction of Resident Microbiome and Listeria on Pears During Cold Storage.”
Funds for the research projects were contributed by industry stakeholders to CPS’ 2020 Campaign for Research. Funding was also provided by state specialty crop block grant programs in California, Florida, Texas, and Washington.