The University of California-Davis’ Center for Produce Safety has awarded $6.8 million to fund 41 research projects aimed at informing the production of safe fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops.

“It’s the highest number of awards we’ve given out at one time,” Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, the center’s director told The Packer. “There’s quite a wide range of projects.”

The projects range from developing buffer zones distances between sheep grazing operations and vegetable crops to evaluating amphibians and reptiles as potential reservoirs of foodborne pathogens.

One project aims to develop epidemiological analyses and risk management practices for reducing E. coli in irrigation source water.  Part of the project will be developing better irrigation water sampling plans.

“I think what’s so important is that translation piece from the science to the practice and being diligent that we do our best to translate it — what that means for the producers or processors,” said Fernandez-Fenaroli. “That’s the hard part and it’s so very important we do that.”

The irrigation water project will partner with a number of industry groups to determine the feasibility of changing water sampling rates.

For a complete list of the grant awardees and their proposals, see the UC Davis Center for Produce Safety’s website.