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Produce Industry Leaders Launch Center for Produce Safety at UC Davis

The Tomato Magazine
June 2007

Produce Marketing Association Pledges $2 Million to Establish Center and Fund
Scientific Studies Designed to Improve Food Safety; Taylor Farms Matches Cash Donation

Representatives from the country’s leading produce trade associations and Calif. Dept. of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura recently announced plans to create a Center for Produce Safety at the University of California, Davis. The Center will be housed at UC Davis’ Western Institute for Food Safety and Security (WIFSS), whose mission is to conduct research that enhances the safety and security of the nation’s food supply.

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) is contributing $2 million to establish the Center. Taylor Farms of Salinas, Calif. has also pledged to contribute an additional $2 million in cash as well
another $1 million of research already planned by the company. PMA will work with the State of Calif., which also is contributing $500,000, and other leading industry association to secure additional funding for research and training initiatives.

“I commend the produce industry and the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security for collaborating with government to launch the new Center for Produce Safety at the University of California at Davis,” said California Secretary of Agriculture A.G. Kawamura. “The Center for Produce Safety will lose no time putting together an aggressive research, training, and outreach agenda into how and where food borne illnesses arise in produce, and actions that can be taken to reduce these risks. The industry’s actions will help restore consumer confi dence and demonstrate that the health and safety of consumers is their ultimate priority.”

“The success of the produce industry depends on our collective commitment to public health,” said PMA President Bryan Silbermann. “Our members, who represent every link of the nation’s produce supply chain, are committed to supporting robust food safety programs based on the best science available. The Center for Produce Safety will signifi cantly advance the entire industry’s collective knowledge about food safety and help ensure consumers continue to enjoy safe, wholesome and healthy produce, every bite, every time.”

Bruce Taylor, chairman and CEO of Taylor Farms agreed, noting, “I consider the contribution Taylor Farms is making today as an investment in the future of our company and the produce industry.
I encourage my colleagues across the entire supply chain to contribute at whatever level possible to ensure that the Center for Produce Safety is able to advance an aggressive research agenda
that provides produce companies with the guidance needed to further enhance food safety efforts.”

The Center for Produce Safety will primarily focus on two critical objectives. First, it will serve as an unprecedented clearinghouse for all available research related to produce safety. This initiative is the first in the industry designed to capture all existing scientifi c data on food safety in one central repository.

Second, the Center will fund new scientifi c studies focused on developing new solutions that mitigate risks associated with the nation’s produce supply. Allocation of the Center’s research investments and oversight of active research projects will be led by a governing body consisting of leaders from industry, associations, government and academia. Details of this body are currently under development.

Research Initiative Part of Comprehensive Industry Response to Improving Produce Safety
The creation of the Center for Produce Safety is the direct result of an industry-wide collaborative response to recent E. Coli outbreaks. In the fall of 2006, the PMA, other industry association
partners and government agencies focused on investigating the cause of the outbreaks and expediting efforts to protect against the risks of future outbreaks.

In addition to the investments in new research, produce industry leaders and food safety experts from the State of California are also launching science-based training and outreach programs. The fieldlevel training support will supplement programs already in place by individual produce growers and handlers and ensure they include the latest scientific information and established good agricultural
practices.

The Center for Produce Safety and enhanced fi eld level training and outreach programs supplement the industry’s recent progress in establishing a comprehensive set of new guidelines agreed to by
the spinach and leafy greens industry.

About PMA
PMA is the largest not-for-profi t association representing the entire global produce supply chain and serves 2,200 companies in 44 countries worldwide. PMA’s leadership includes the largest produce companies on both the buy and supply side. PMA supports robust food safety programs and encourages its members who represent every link in the supply chain to constantly evaluate their food safety programs. For more information visit www.pma.com.

© 2007 Columbia Publishing

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