US -The Center for Produce Safety (CPS) has allocated just over U.S$2.7 million to fund ten new research projects to address critical food safety concerns in the fresh produce industry.

These projects, led by principal investigators from research organizations in the United States and Spain, aim to provide insights and solutions to industry science priorities. 

CPS’s commitment to advancing food safety is reflected in the diverse topics covered, ranging from risks associated with waxing roller brushes to the evaluation of sanitation protocols and the impact of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR) Subpart E.

CPS’s annual call for research proposals identified top industry science priorities, ensuring that the funded projects directly address urgent questions in the fresh produce sector. 

The research spans the entire fresh produce supply chain, from field to packinghouses, emphasizing a holistic approach to food safety.

To ensure alignment with industry needs, researchers’ proposals underwent a thorough vetting process led by CPS Technical Committee members and other expert volunteers. 

The resulting projects are set to commence in January 2024, with an anticipated completion timeline of 1–2 years.

Special project addressing urgent industry needs

In addition to the nine projects awarded through the annual grant process, CPS allocated funding for a special project titled “Tri-State Special Project on Harvest Equipment: A Data-Informed Consensus of ‘Clean for the Intended Purpose.’” 

This project, led by Dr. Channah Rock from the University of Arizona and Dr. Michelle Danyluk from the University of Florida, addresses an urgent industry need and began in November 2023.

The newly funded projects cover a wide range of critical topics, including controlling Listeria Monocytogenes on avocados, assessing survival of pathogens on fresh-cut produce ingredients, evaluating sanitation protocols, and improving methods for assessing infectious human enteric virus survival in produce.

Researchers will present progress reports and final findings at CPS’s annual Research Symposium, providing a platform for industry stakeholders to stay informed about advancements in fresh produce safety. 

Project statuses and findings will also be shared through various CPS communications.

CPS’s research program is made possible by funds from the Center for Produce Safety’s Campaign Contributors and Specialty Crop Block Grant programs in various state departments of agriculture, including California, Washington, Florida, and Texas.

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