Dole Food Co. has multiple motives when it comes to a $750,000 donation to the Center for Produce Safety’s (CPS) new capital fundraising campaign. The company’s vice president of Food Safety and Quality Natalie Dyenson says that when it comes to food safety, there is much at stake and much to be gained.

Dole Food Company, vice president of Food Safety and Quality, Natalie Dyenson

“The produce industry has been challenged by a series of food safety issues the past few years,” she said. “Food safety isn’t something that affects only this grower or that grower — it affects every grower, it affects every company, and most importantly it affects every consumer. Produce is a healthy option with many health benefits and as an industry, we need to ensure that we are producing the safest possible food and investing and following the science is the way for us to do that.”

In addition to her work at Dole, Dyenson also serves on CPS’s board of directors.

CPS launched its current campaign in January. The center has now raised nearly $6 million toward its $15 million goal to fund its work for the next five years. CPS finances produce-specific food safety research then transfers those research learnings to industry, government and other stakeholders. Most of the research projects it funds are completed within one year.

Dole’s contribution is the company’s second to a Center for Produce Safety capital campaign; it donated $500,000 to CPS’s 2015 campaign. 

Dole sends a delegation to CPS’s annual Research Symposium to gather reports to inform the company’s food safety program. Those delegates transfer that knowledge to the rest of Dole’s food safety team, where the information is implemented throughout Dole’s food safety program, and to the company’s management chain. Dole also monitors for technology emerging from CPS research and evaluates whether that tech can be implemented or adapted to Dole’s operations.

Currently, CPS research is underway that is designed to answer some of the produce industry’s top food safety questions, from evaluating the effectiveness of various agricultural water treatments and Listeria controls to assessing the increasing threat of Cyclospora.

Dyenson noted how CPS has already helped to change the conversation about fresh produce food safety.

“CPS has filled a very important need for the industry,” she said. “It created a forum for industry, regulatory and academia to come together to identify and conduct very targeted and focused research that fills a need for industry, and then provides vehicles for getting that information out.

“I don’t think that food safety in the produce space would have advanced as much as it has had CPS not been around.”

Dole’s food safety lead called on other produce industry companies, large and small, to contribute to the Center for Produce Safety to enhance fresh produce food safety.

“Better food safety is better business,” Dyenson said. “We all need to participate in finding solutions.”

Contributions to date

As of April 30, the following companies have contributed to CPS’s new fundraising campaign. A current list of contributors can be viewed here

Diamond Level Supporters, $1 million or more

  • Taylor Farms
  • Western Growers

Platinum Level Supporters, $500,000 – $999,999

  • Dole Fresh Vegetables/Dole Food Company

Gold Level Supporters, $250,000 – $499,999

  • California Fresh Fruit Association
  • Sysco
  • Tanimura & Antle
  • Washington State Tree Fruit Association

Silver Level Supporters, $100,000 – $249,999

  • Lipman Family Farms
  • JV Smith Companies
  • Promotora Agricola El Toro
  • Western Precooling
  • Grimmway Farms/Cal-Organic
  • McEntire Produce, Inc.
  • Driscoll’s
  • The Giumarra Companies
  • GreenGate Fresh
  • iFoodDecisionSciences
  • Mission Produce, Inc.
  • Pacific International Marketing

Bronze-Plus Level Supporters, $50,000 to $99,999

  • The Oppenheimer Group
  • Amigo Farms
  • Bonduelle Fresh Americas
  • California Avocado Commission
  • DiMare Fresh
  • GoodFarms
  • L&M Companies
  • New York Apple Association

Bronze Level Supporters, up to $49,999:

  • Church Brothers
  • Coastline Family Farms, Inc.
  • Little Bear Produce
  • California Cantaloupe Advisory Board
  • Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Inc.
  • Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association
  • Diversified Restaurant Systems, Inc.
  • Florida Tomato Committee
  • Pasquinelli Produce Co.
  • California Melon Research Board
  • Tyger Sales and Marketing, LLC
  • Wish Farms
  • National Watermelon Association
  • Blue Book Services, Inc.
  • Primus Labs
  • Pacific Ag Pak, Inc.

Many industry organizations have supported CPS since it was founded in 2007. A complete list of contributors to CPS’s 2015 campaign can be viewed here

About CPS
The Center for Produce Safety is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. CPS is a collaborative partnership that leverages the combined expertise of industry, government and the scientific and academic communities to focus on providing research needed to continually enhance food safety. This level of collaboration allows CPS to fill the knowledge gaps on produce food safety and address both research priorities and immediate industry needs.

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