The Center for Produce Safety (CPS) has awarded 16 grants totalling $3m aimed at providing the produce industry with food safety practices throughout the supply chain.
Based at the University of California, Davis, CPS said the research awards are aimed at answering questions in areas of food safety practices for fruit, vegetable and tree nut production; pre-harvest, harvest and post-harvest handling; and co-management of food safety and the environment.
The CPS Technical Committee reviewed 55 proposals, the highest number of proposals received since 2008 and the projects will begin in January 2014 with project completion ranging from the end of 2014 to the end of 2015.
George Vellidis, from the University of Georgia has had two projects backed by CPS.
“Does Salmonella move through the irrigation systems of mixed produce farms of the southeastern US?” will receive $371,782 in grant money and run to the end of December 2015.
“Does splash from overhead sprinkler irrigation systems contaminate produce with Salmonella in the Southeastern US” received a grant of $81,864 and ends on 30 June 2014.
Vellidis said collaborating with industry fills produce safety knowledge gaps.
“Our ongoing work has shown that Salmonella is occasionally present in small numbers in ponds used for irrigation.
“The new project’s goal is to understand if Salmonella moves through irrigation systems and onto crops. We expect that knowledge resulting from this project will allow vegetable producers to deliver a safer product to the American consumer.”
Novel pathogen detection
Changqing Wu, from the University of Delaware, was chosen to research “Enhancement of forced-air cooling to reduce Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and/or total surface microbiota on cantaloupes”.
The work proposes using a combination of ultrasonic atomization technology and antimicrobial formulation into commercial forced-air cooling systems during the cooling process to eliminate foodborne pathogens and/or spoilage organisms contaminating the surface of harvested cantaloupe.
Other projects come from universities such as California Davis, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Arizona, Cornell, Oregon and North Caroline State as well as the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
“We’re very encouraged and excited about this round of funded research projects. The research being conducted at CPS is relevant to all points of the supply chain – farmers, shippers, handlers and consumers,” said Stephen Patricio, chairman for the CPS board of directors.
To read more about the funded projects click HERE .