Exclusive interview: Center for Produce Safety on food safety research
Food Safety Strategies was recently able to speak with Doug Grant, the Center for Produce Safety Knowledge Transfer Task Force chair, and Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, executive director of the Center for Produce Safety. The theme of the discussion was food safety research, specifically about an article from ThePacker.com ("Food safety research needs better distribution," 10/22/18).
Liz Parker: What would be a good way to get more research to companies who could use it?
Doug Grant: One of the key strategies at the CPS is to work closely with strategic partners to advance food safety. To accomplish this, the CPS KTTF (Knowledge Transfer Task Force) is reaching out to trade and commodity associations to help them with education initiatives using the wealth of CPS research available. Secondly, to publish monthly articles that highlight individuals and companies that are using CPS research to improve their internal food safety programs. Our hope is that C-Level executives and others will read these article and realize they can make similar improvements to their food safety programs.
LP: Do you think the Knowledge Transfer Force mentioned will be successful? Why or why not?
DG: For more than 10 years the CPS has funded dozens of research projects and has a wealth of information available. With the continuing onslaught of food safety outbreaks, there is no other option but to be successful sharing CPS information and improving the safety of our food supply.
LP: Ditto on CPS enhancing its website—can you see this being useful? Why or why not?
DG: It's been many years since CPS set up its website and its due for a facelift. Work is being done to improve the menu navigation, and to organize material to make it more searchable. We want to make it easy to search for topics, and easily find research papers and associated materials.
LP: What type of monthly articles do you think they should write on what individual companies are doing to apply CPS research and how that may relate to other industry operators?
DG: The KTTF plans to write monthly articles based on the top 5-10 key topic areas. These could be major outbreak events and key learnings, or new scientific advances that companies need to consider, among other areas.
LP: Can research help to pinpoint causes of outbreaks, such as the E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce from Yuma, AZ last season?
Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli: Government agencies are the authority that identifies the cause of outbreaks. They can certainly work with industry and research scientist to work evaluate the various possibilities why an outbreak occurred.
CPS funded research serves to provide information that will strengthen food safety programs throughout the fresh produce supply chain. We utilize information learned from outbreak investigations to develop research priorities and answer our gaps in food safety knowledge.