Oct 12, 2022
Industry leaders advocate for Center for Produce Safety efforts
Organizations from across the fresh produce supply chain, including organics, have contributed up to $250,000 to the Center for Produce Safety’s (CPS) campaign to support fresh produce food-safety research.
Grower-shippers involved in organic production contributing include Church Brothers Farms, DiMare Fresh, Driscoll’s, Grimmway Farms/Cal-Organic, Lipman Family Farms, Mission Produce, organicgirl and Taylor Farms. A complete list of contributors can be viewed here.
Two industry leaders recently came together to explain why they support CPS and what they receive from the relationship. Calavo president and CEO Brian Kocher and The Giumarra Companies’ president Tim Riley pointed to the unique food safety challenges facing fresh produce and how CPS stokes consumer confidence in produce by answering those challenges, according to a news release.
Riley highlighted how food safety challenges facing fresh produce compared to other foods are unique and noted the importance of delivering safe produce to consumers. “How fresh produce is grown, harvested and packed presents our industry with unique challenges unlike any other,” he said in the release. “It’s imperative that we always fund academic research in the area of food safety. Continuous advancements in food safety help us ensure the products we sell to consumers are safe, in addition to being healthy.”
Calavo’s Kocher noted the industry’s responsibility to prioritize produce safety. “We live food safety so that our customers, our consumers, don’t have to question or worry about it,” Kocher said in the release. “So, food safety is our bedrock promise to them. It’s part of our DNA, a goal we can never stop working towards. We’re never finished.”
CPS’s research capital campaign will finance the center’s work for five years, allowing CPS to continue its mission to fund science, find solutions and fuel change in produce safety. To date, 66 organizations from across the fresh produce supply chain have contributed.
Each year, the center’s Technical Committee identifies industry’s top produce-safety questions, then calls on researchers to answer them. Learnings are shared with industry, government, public health and other produce safety stakeholders. Those knowledge transfer channels include a searchable online research database, a yearly research symposium, and key learnings and other resources that boil out from them, including emails and webinars, columns in produce-centric trade media outlets and social media feeds.
Since its 2007 founding, CPS has invested $40.1 million in 225 produce-centric safety research projects. In September, CPS announced funding of 14 new projects starting in 2023, valued at $3.9 million. Those projects are designed to answer industry questions about, for example, evaluating and mitigating risk from Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella, controlling Cyclospora, and sanitizing harvesting bins and picking bags.
Calavo’s Kocher reports his company makes an intentional effort to learn from CPS, including reviewing CPS research and attending symposia and webinars. “I think you’re a better HR person, a better finance person, if you know more about your business – it makes us a better company when our talent can get educated,” Kocher said in the release.
Stressing how the industry accomplishes more together than it can alone, Kocher and Giumarra’s Riley call on other industry leaders to join them in supporting CPS.
“The Giumarra Companies contributes to CPS because its efforts are critical to our business,” Riley said in the release. “Food safety has been one of our top priorities since it became known to the industry. The resources and events put forth by CPS support our internal efforts in a way that we wouldn’t be able to accomplish on our own.”