October 11, 2022

Center for Produce Safety funding new research projects

To help answer the fresh produce industry’s most urgent food safety questions, the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) has just funded 14 new research projects, valued at just over $3.9 million.

These 14 new projects are designed to answer industry questions about leafy greens production in controlled (indoor) environments, evaluating and mitigating risk from Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella, and Cyclospora detection. From avocados to leafy greens to tree fruit, researchers’ proposals were first vetted by industry experts on the CPS Technical Committee and other expert volunteers, to ensure the resulting science will best meet industry needs. A complete list of these projects is below.

Proposals for the CPS grants included avocados to leafy greens to tree fruit.

“These timely new research projects were made possible by the generosity of industry contributors to CPS’s 2020 Campaign for Research, and grants from state Specialty Crop Block Grant Programs in California, Florida, Texas and Washington, all of whom are committed to enhancing fresh produce food safety,” said Joe Pezzini, chair of CPS’s volunteer Board of Directors and senior director of ag operations for Taylor Farms. “Without their support, CPS couldn’t succeed in our mission to fund science, find solutions and fuel change in produce safety.”

One of the 14 projects has already begun and the other 14 projects will begin in November 2022 and January 2023; all will be completed within 1-2 years. Findings will be reported to the industry by researchers at CPS’s annual Research Symposium, and via CPS through summaries posted to CPS’s website and monthly CPS emails conveying research updates.

2022 RFP Grant Recipients
All projects will begin in January 2023 (*except as noted)

Ana Allende, Ph.D., CEBAS-CSIC
Occurrence and transfer of pathogens from the production environment to leafy greens grown in controlled environment agriculture

Alejandro Castillo, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research
Identification of routes and mechanisms for distribution and establishment of Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria spp. in avocado packing environments
*Began in April 2022

Malak Esseili, Ph.D., University of Georgia
Optimizing methods for the detection and quantification of infectious human norovirus from fresh berries using human intestinal enteroids

Kristen Gibson, Ph.D., University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Microbial risks during indoor leafy green production: Current knowledge and future research needs
*Will begin in November 2022

Asis Khan, Ph.D., USDA Agricultural Research Service
A viability assay for Cyclospora and its surrogates Eimeria

Jenny Maloney, Ph.D., USDA Agricultural Research Service
Development of an infrared-functionalized microbalance sensor for Cyclospora cayetanensis detection and differentiation

Channah Rock, Ph.D., University of Arizona
Microbiological risk assessment using QMRA in preharvest agriculture water treatment systems for leafy greens

Matthew Stasiewicz, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Flexible risk process models to quantify residual risks and the impact of interventions

Laura Strawn, Ph.D., Virginia Tech
A metagenomic approach to food safety risk mitigation in pears

Pilar Truchado Gambao, Ph.D., CEBAS-CSIC
Evidence for the industrial application of bacteriophages to control Listeria monocytogenes in leafy greens

Mohit Verma, Ph.D., Purdue University
Testbeds for microbial source tracking using microfluidic paper-based analytical devices

Qixin Zhong, Ph.D., University of Tennessee
Supplementing food antimicrobials in commercial edible coatings to enhance the safety and extend the shelf-life of stone fruits

Meijun Zhu, Ph.D., Washington State University
Control of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes on peaches through spray-bar brush bed sanitizer intervention

Meijun Zhu, Ph.D., Washington State University
Interaction of resident microbiome and Listeria on pears during cold storage

All annual research awards can be found on the Funded Research Projects page on the CPS website.

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