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VIDEO: CPS funds $2.7 million in research grants

The Center for Produce Safety recently funded 11 new research projects to the tune of nearly $3 million.

Greg Johnson, director of media development talked with George Nikolich, vice president of technical operations for Gerawan Farming BB #:153375, a member of the CPS Technical Committee, about the purpose of these new grants.

Nikolich sums it up:

“I think it says don’t assume anything,” he says. “Make sure what you do is based on solid evidence that’s science-based. You’re not spinning your wheels. You’re not spending resources unnecessarily.”

Watch the interview here and read below about the research grants awarded.

The Center for Produce Safety (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 AgricultureWashington State Department of AgricultureFlorida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Texas Department of Agriculture.

2019 RFP Grant Recipients

All projects will begin January 2020

Ana Allende, PhD, Centro de Edafologia y Biologia Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS) – CSIC

Produce surface treatments based on bacteriophages and bacteriocin-producing cultures to consistently reduce 2-log of Listeria monocytogenes on leafy greens and pre-cut fruit and vegetables


Paul Dawson, PhD, Clemson University

Verification and validation of environmental monitoring programs for biofilm control in the packing house


Xiangyu Deng, PhD, University of Georgia

Possibility, duration, and molecular predictors of sanitizer tolerance in Listeria monocytogenes


Laurel Dunn, PhD, University of Georgia

Environmental microbial risks associated with vented produce in distribution centers


Alexander Fridman, PhD, Drexel University

Post-harvest fresh produce wash water disinfection by submerged cold plasma non-chemical continuous treatment system


Kalmia Kniel, PhD, University of Delaware

Analysis of the presence of Cyclospora in waters of the Mid-Atlantic states and evaluation of removal and inactivation by filtration


Mia Mattioli, PhD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Sources and prevalence of Cyclospora cayetanensis in Southeastern US irrigation water sources and growing environments


Ynés Ortega, PhD, University of Georgia

The prevalence of Cyclospora in water and produce


Gloria Sánchez Moragas, PhD, Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos – CSIC

Occurrence and accumulation of potentially infectious viruses in process water and impact of water disinfection practices to minimize viral cross-contamination


Martin Wiedmann, PhD, Cornell University

Factors affecting persistence of Listeria monocytogenes need to be identified for evaluation and prioritization of interventions


Martin Wiedmann, PhD, Cornell University

Listeria develops reduced sanitizer sensitivity but not resistance at recommended sanitizer use levels


All annual research awards can be found on the Funded Research Projects page on the CPS website