Industry-Research Partnerships are Critical for Advancing Produce Safety
By Ilango Surendran
May 12, 2021
Food safety is a never-ending journey. It is about constantly striving to improve and learn more about better methods and systems. Among the keys to continual learning are research and studies specific to produce that identify risks as well as mitigation steps. In the United States, the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) was established in 2007 to provide funding for targeted research, which has yielded scientific advancements in pathogen prevention and positively influenced food safety metrics and practices globally.
While much is known about pathogen prevention, refinement in our practices and metrics are necessary and best achieved through research and studies.
The CPS mission is simple: Fund the science, find solutions and fuel the change. CPS is largely funded by produce trade associations, retail and foodservice companies, food technology companies and farmers, packers and processors of fresh produce. Many of the companies that fund CPS have global operations and apply the research findings to fuel food safety improvements across their operations or on behalf of their customers and clients.
iFoodDS, a leader in food safety, traceability and quality solutions for the produce supply chain, is committed to helping advance continuous food safety improvements in the produce industry. As such, iFoodDS supports the critical work of CPS as well as the Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia & New Zealand (FPSC). Supporting CPS and FPSC is a natural fit for iFoodDS, and complements its mission to deliver solutions that help supply chain participants provide high-quality, wholesome produce to consumers.
How can the produce industry in Australia and New Zealand benefit from the work of CPS? CPS transparently provides all study findings via its website and research symposiums so the information is available and accessible to the entire produce industry. It is important for food safety professionals to review and understand these research findings, determine which studies could be applicable to your operations and find methods to apply the relevant studies to advance continuous improvement within your companies. The FPSC also plays an important role in highlighting and translating this work for Australian and New Zealand audiences.
While there are geographic, climatic and production differences that must be recognized with this U.S.-based research organization, similarities also exist which provide for global learning opportunities. Ironically, the pandemic has made the CPS annual research symposium more accessible than ever since it was offered virtually in 2020 and those sessions are now available online. The 2021 symposium will also be virtual and take place over five weeks in June and July.
It’s important to look toward all opportunities that can enhance and improve produce safety. There are numerous resources available but the produce-only focus of CPS is unique and the results and findings should be monitored, assessed and applied as part of our industry’s ongoing commitment to continuous improvement.