According to investors, the food safety of fresh produce comes down to pride, potential, partnership and priorities.
Sysco, Tanimura & Antle and grower groups California Fresh Fruit Association and Washington State Tree Fruit Association have contributed $250,000 each to the Center of Produce Safety’s (CPS) latest research capital campaign. All four organizations are repeat supporters of CPS.
“Our orchardists take great pride in producing healthy food, and want to ensure that it remains safe for all consumers,” said Jon DeVaney, president of Washington State Tree Fruit Association.
“That requires developing and consistently applying food safety programs using the latest research and techniques. So even during difficult and unsettled times, our industry renewed its commitment to CPS, to ensure advancements in food safety continue.”
CPS launched its current campaign in January. The center has now raised nearly $7 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.
Julie Olivarria, Sysco vice president of produce, talked about the downsides of not investing in produce safety. “First and foremost, there is the human factor. Produce should make people healthier, not potentially make them sick. Second, there is the financial implication of food safety. Advisories and recalls can have a profound impact on our bottom line – we cannot sell products that aren’t available, or that nobody wants because they’ve been implicated.”
Scott Grabau, president and chief executive officer of Tanimura & Antle, said, “Food safety should rank top on everyone’s list of priorities, next to worker safety. While we can only control what happens within our operations, we are affected by what happens in the industry as a whole. CPS allows us to have a broader reach, increasing the knowledge, awareness and impact of the industry beyond.”
Contributions to date
As of Aug. 18, more than 50 companies have contributed to CPS’s new fundraising campaign. A current list of contributors can be viewed here.
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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