The Center for Produce Safety awards $2.7 million to research projects

From left: Cathy Burns, Dave Corsi, Michael Robach, Mike Taylor and Tim York discuss the 2018 romaine crisis at the Center for Produce Safety Research Symposium in Austin in June.

PRESS RELEASE WOODLAND, CA, October 3, 2019 – The Center for Produce Safety BB #:339618 (CPS) announced today 11 new research awards valued at a little over $2.7 million.

The awards are for research projects directed at answering critical questions in specific areas of food safety practices. Among this year’s topics – Cyclospora prevalence, Listeria intervention, and new technologies.

“If you take a step back and look at the Center for Produce Safety’s latest grant recipients, their project topics address the most pressing relevant produce food safety issues. Right now you hear a lot about Cyclospora causing issues with fresh produce, or about how transference of pathogens in water is initiating problems in general in our industry,” said Dave Corsi, Vice President of Produce and Floral at Wegmans Food Markets, and Chair for the CPS Board of Directors.

“We congratulate the 2019 award recipients and feel encouraged by their focus on addressing these relevant issues. Fund the Science is the main thrust behind CPS’ mission, which will eventually assist the funded scientists to Find Solutions to food safety issues and then, finally, to Fuel Change in all parts of the supply chain.”

Xiangyu Deng, PhD, University of Georgia, is aiming high with his funded research project, “Possibility, duration, and molecular predictors of sanitizer tolerance in Listeria monocytogenes.”

“Through this project we want to help settle the debate on whether Listeria monocytogenes develops tolerance to common sanitizers,” stated Deng. “We will further explore if such tolerance is relevant to sanitizing practices in the produce industry by studying its possibility, duration, and genetic predictors.”

Paul Dawson, PhD, Clemson University, is a first-time award recipient for his project, “Verification and validation of environmental monitoring programs for biofilm control in the packing house.”

Dr. Dawson is focusing on Listeria monocytogenes as a pathogen of concern for his project. “In this project we will collect data from the quantification and modelling of L. monocytogenes and the resident microbial community biofilms on surfaces like those found in the packing house. Based on the results, we aim to build a user-friendly model, such as an Excel Add-in, that will predict biofilm growth rates and ultimately optimal environmental sampling time and sanitation intervals for the packing industry.”

The awards were made possible by funds provided by the Center for Produce Safety’s Campaign Contributors, the Specialty Crop Block Grant programs in California Department of Food and Agriculture, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Texas Department of Agriculture.

All projects will begin in January.

The list and details of the 11 grant recipients can be found here.