Industry Steps Up to the Plate with Aggressive Food
The Tomato Magazine
The new Center for Produce Safety at the University of California, Davis
(UC Davis) is off and running. Nearly 40 produce industry leaders, association
representatives, government regulators, academics and public/private partners
met June 12 on campus to help define the vision and initial key projects
for an international food safety initiative.
The Center for Produce Safety is a public-private partnership we
are creating as a collaborative effort of industry, government, academia
and consumer groups, noted Bryan Silbermann, president of the Produce
Marketing Association (PMA). Its purpose, he explained, is
to enhance the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables through research,
information exchange and training worldwide.
The initial meeting was called to help identify and defi ne strategy and
organizational principles for the new center, Silbermann said. As a result
of the meeting, an aggressive agenda and timeline have been established.
An advisory board is to be organized by July 30 and an executive director
picked within 90 days. Later this year a symposium will be held to provide
the industry with a platform to share the latest information on solutions-based
research already underway for leafy greens.
Allocation of the Centers research investments and oversight of
active research projects will be led by a governing body consisting of
leaders from industry, associations, government and academia.
The Center will fund new studies and ongoing training and will serve as
a clearinghouse for research conducted worldwide. The University
of California, Davis applauds this collaborative initiative to further
understand virulent pathogens. We are excited that the Center has chosen
to work closely with UC Davis, said Neal Van Alfen, Ph.D., dean
of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis.
This partnership will leverage our combined strengths of industry
resolve, scientific research and agricultural expertise to ensure a safe
and secure food supply.
The creation of the Center for Produce Safety is the result of an industry-wide
response to recent E. coli outbreaks. In the fall of 2006, PMA, other
industry associations and government agencies
focused on investigating the cause of the outbreaks and expediting efforts
to protect against the risks of future outbreaks. Earlier, in April, representatives
from the countrys leading produce trade associations and California
Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura announced plans
to create the Center. Initial funding has come from public and private
money. Pledges received to date include: PMA, $2 million; Taylor Farms
of California, $2 million cash and an additional $1 million of research
already planned by the company; and the state of California, $500,000.
In addition, Western Growers Association will work with the Center in
developing training programs.
Ongoing success will depend upon industry associations and businesses
coming forward and committing the fi nancial resources necessary to ensure
relevant research is conducted, interpreted and
communicated to the industry at large, said Alec Leach, president
of Taylor Farms California Inc. Ensuring food safety is the business
of us all.
Among the objectives the Center hopes to fill are: (1) Serve as a clearinghouse
for all available research related to produce safety. This initiative
is the fi rst in the industry designed to capture all
existing scientifi c data on food safety in one central repository; (2)
Fund new scientifi c studies focused on developing solutions that mitigate
risks associated with the nations produce supply; and (3)
Invest in science-based training and outreach programs. The field-level
training will augment programs already in place and will include the latest
scientifi c information and recognized good agricultural practices. The
Center will be housed at UC Davis Western Institute for Food Safety
and Security (WIFSS).
For more information on the new food safety initiative, visit: www.pma.com.
© 2007 Columbia
>> Return to top
Columbia Publishing & Design | 1-800-900-2452