CPS research runs the gamut from compost to UV light

06/28/2013 12:32:00 PM
Coral Beach

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Research results so fresh that some have not yet been published in scientific journals held the attention of 300 attendees at the fourth annual Center for Produce Safety Symposium.

Jim Gorney at the Center for Produce Safety Symposium, June 2013.Coral BeachJim Gorny, vice president for food safety and technology at the Produce Marketing Association, sums up research presentations from the CPS Research Symposium.Scientists presented summaries of thousands of hours of research on diverse food safety topics including the potential use of ultraviolet treatments to kill pathogens on soft fruits and the best practices for compost production.

Panels of experts from government, fresh produce companies and academia offered on-the-spot interpretation of the research, moderated by the Produce Marketing Association’s chief science officer and vice president of food safety and technology, Bob Whitaker and Jim Gorny, respectively.

The day after the two-day symposium at Wegmans Conference Center, Whitaker and Gorny provided additional insight during a follow-up session presented by the Newark, Del.-based PMA.

“Research by itself isn’t much help,” said Whitaker, who is chairman of the CPS Technical Committee that oversees the center’s research funding program.

“This new research must be considered in the context of the knowledge base we have been building.”

Executive director Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli said the CPS plans to post the new research on its website as soon as possible, adding to the international food safety database already available on the site at cps.ucdavis.edu. Whitaker said PMA also plans to post information from the symposium on its website as early as the second week of July.

Following is a sampling of the research and panel discussions presented June 26.

Cut to cool

Although it was not a primary research target, data gathered in several projects reinforced the need for fresh produce to be cooled as quickly as possible after harvest.

Johnny Massa (left), general manager of Salinas-based Comgro Soil Amendments Inc., at the CPS Research Symposium.Coral BeachJohnny Massa (left), general manager of Salinas-based Comgro Soil Amendments Inc., stresses the importance of composting best practices during a panel discussion at the CPS Research Symposium.“The best thing we can do for quality is to get product harvested, in the cooler and down to temperature right away,” Whitaker said.

“And it turns out it’s the same thing for food safety.”

Increased buffer zones?

Many buyers require minimum distances between growing fields and concentrated animal feeding operations, but research by Elaine Berry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat Research Center, showed that additional factors should be considered.

Prevailing winds and movement of animals in and out of pens increase the airborne transfer of pathogens to nearby produce, according to Berry’s research.

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