The Center for Produce Safety (CPS) at the University of California, Davis this week announced ten new grant awards for research projects that will look at critical food safety issues for fruit, vegetable and nut production.

“The objective is to provide the produce industry with practical, translatable research data that can be used at all levels of the supply chain,” said CPS. “The broad range of the projects reflects the commitment of CPS’s Partners in Research (PIR), which include a cross section of public and private partners.”

According to Davis, CPS has funded 69 projects valued at a total of $10.6 million.
“The research being conducted at CPS is applicable to all points of the supply chain – farmers, shippers, handlers and consumers. CPS’s collaboration with its Partners in Research demonstrates what is possible when we work together to share knowledge to help keep fresh produce safe,” said Stephen Patricio, CPS Advisory Board chairman. “I encourage industry stakeholders to fund the Center for Produce Safety research program to continue filling knowledge gaps.”
A press release about the awards noted that the CPS Technical Committee reviewed 50 proposals, “the highest number of proposals received in response to its annual request for proposals since the initial RFP in 2008.”

The CPS Technical Committee recommended ten proposals for funding, listed below. Research work on these new projects will begin in January 2013:

Reducing the risk for transfer of zoonotic foodborne pathogens from domestic and wild animals to vegetable crops in the southwest desert. Michele Jay-Russell, University of California, Davis

Assessment of sanitation techniques for tree fruit storage bins. Karen Killinger, Washington State University

Rapid assessment of oxidative stress induced in microbes to evaluate efficacy of sanitizers in wash water. Nitin Nitin, University of California, Davis
Practical validation of surface pasteurization of netted melons. Trevor Suslow, University of California, Davis

Avirulent Salmonella strains and their use to model behavior of the pathogen in water, composts, in and on vegetables. Max Teplitski, University of Florida

Die-off rates of human pathogens in manure amended soil under natural climatic conditions using novel sentinel chamber system. Keith Warriner, University of Guelph

Genomic elucidation of the physiological state of enteric pathogens on pre-harvest lettuce. Martin Wiedmann, Cornell University

Science-based evaluation of risks associated with wildlife exposure for contamination of irrigation water by Salmonella. Anita Wright, University of Florida

Evaluation of the level of white-tailed deer fecal colonization by E. coli O157:H7 and the ecological role of dung beetles with the pathogen in produce farms. Vivian Wu, University of Maine

Novel coating systems with sustained release of food antimicrobials to improve safety of cantaloupe. Qixin Zhong, University of Tennessee

“CPS has expanded upon basic core research areas from the farm through processing and up the supply chain through distribution. Working with stakeholders, key knowledge gaps in food safety were identified, and CPS anticipates these new research projects will provide depth from which those stakeholders can develop science-based food safety programs,” said Dr. Robert Whitaker, CPS Technical Committee chairman.