Research for the sake of research is not why the Center for Produce Safety launched the Campaign for Produce Safety initiative and it’s not why the regional trade association Western Growers donated $1 million to it. logos-Western-Growers-and-Center-for-Produce-Safety “CPS (the Center for Produce Safety) has global reach and impact,” said Western Growers president and CEO Tom Nasiff during an online news conference. “We hope the whole food chain steps up to support this research initiative.” Western Growers has consistently supported CPS since its inception, giving more than $4 million to the center for research into fresh produce food safety. The $1 million donation announced last week put the CPS past the half-way mark in its drive toward raising $20 million by 2020 to secure its future. Originally based at the University of California-Davis, CPS has provided $18 million for research projects involving 36 institutions in four countries since 2007, said Steve Patricio, CPS board chairman and Westside Produce president and CEO. “The center’s goal has been to get actionable results that can be put into practice in the field and in packing facilities,” Patricio said during the news conference. “Now we are looking to secure the future of the center. It’s important to look at all aspects of fresh produce from field to fork. Initially a lot of the research was commodity specific, but it has broadened to look at and for common problems in the whole industry.” “CPS is the only organization where the produce supply and demand chain works collaboratively with the regulatory, research and academic community to identify research needs, conduct research and translate findings into science-based implementable solutions and guidance from field to fork,” said Patricio. Some of the success stories out of the CPS research projects so far may not seem like rocket science, because they’re not. They’re food safety science. The executive director of the CPS, Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, said a couple of projects with the most real-world impact have involved simple theories and resulted in simple, inexpensive ways to achieve significant reductions of pathogens on fresh produce. “The co-habitation of plants and animals in agriculture is something most agree can introduce pathogens,” she said. “One project found ways to manage operations to avoid contamination. Sometimes it’s as simple as looking at the calendar and (coordinating) harvest of fresh produce and the routine movement of animals so that you avoid problems.” Fernandez-Fenaroli said another CPS-funded research project proved it was well worth the extra cost of having welds on lettuce harvesting knives smoothed down. The rough welds provided hiding places for pathogens, causing cross contamination issues. “The Campaign for Produce Safety is paramount to the continuation of our work to identify and fill in produce food safety knowledge gaps,” said Fernandez-Fenaroli. “With the generous support of our campaign contributions CPS can increase the amount of industry-focused food safety research while broadening the scope geographically and throughout the supply chain.”