To help answer the fresh produce industry’s most urgent food safety questions, the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) is funding ten new research projects, valued at just over $2.7 million. The funded principal investigators come from research organizations in five U.S. states and Spain.
Of the ten projects, nine were awarded via CPS’s annual call for research proposals, which identified top industry science priorities. This cycle’s projects are designed to answer questions on topics evaluating and mitigating risks associated with waxing roller brushes, enteric viruses, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR) Subpart E (also known as the Agricultural Water Rule), and other issues. The research focuses on whole and fresh-cut produce from the field to packinghouses, although CPS findings can often be applied to the entire fresh produce supply chain.
To ensure the resulting science best meets industry’s needs, researchers’ proposals were first vetted and refined by CPS Technical Committee members and other expert volunteers. The projects began in January 2024, and will be completed within 1–2 years.
In addition to the nine projects awarded through the annual grant process, CPS awarded one special project, titled, “Tri-State Special Project on Harvest Equipment: A Data-Informed Consensus of ‘Clean for the Intended Purpose’.” CPS funds special projects when an urgent industry need arises between annual grant cycles. The project is led by Dr. Channah Rock, Ph.D. from the University of Arizona and Michelle Danyluk, Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Their work began November 2023 and will end with a final presentation at the 2024 CPS Research Symposium.
The nine other newly-funded projects include:
- “Control Of Listeria Monocytogenes on Avocado and Avocado Contact Surfaces During Dry Packing by Acetogenins Naturally Present in Avocado Seed” by Alejandro Castillo, Ph.D. from Texas A&M Agrilife Research
- “Survival of Pathogens on Work-in-Process Fresh-Cut Produce Ingredients” by Xuetong Fan, Ph.D. from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA’s ARS)
- “Evaluation of Sanitation Protocols for Nonconventional Food-Contact Surface Materials Used in Produce Packinghouses” by Kristen Gibson, Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
- “Improving Methods for the Assessment of Infectious Human Enteric Virus Survival in Produce” by Susana Guix, Ph.D. from the University of Barcelona
- “Synergistic Antimicrobial Activity of Food-Grade Compounds in Wax Coatings on Fruits During Wax Drying” by Nitin Nitin, Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis
- “Developing a User-Friendly Risk Assessment Tool to Assess the Food Safety Risks of Fresh Produce Production and Landscape” by Alda Pires, Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis
- “Development of a Risk Ranking Tool for Evaluating Hazards and Risks Related to Agricultural Water Subpart E” by Channah Rock, Ph.D. from the University of Arizona
- “Testing Wetting Agents for Soil Drag and Bootie Swabs and Validating Them in Varied Agricultural Soils” by Matthew Stasiewicz, Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- “Characterization and Mitigation of Food Safety Risks Associated With Waxing Roller Brushes” by Luxin Wang, Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis.
Researchers present progress reports and final findings to industry and other produce safety stakeholders at CPS's annual Research Symposium. CPS will also share project statuses and final findings through various CPS communications.
CPS’s research program is made possible by funds provided by the Center for Produce Safety's Campaign Contributors, the Specialty Crop Block Grant programs in California Department of Food and Agriculture, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Texas Department of Agriculture.