Fresh Express donates additional $500K to fund produce safety research
Value-added salad leader Fresh Express has contributed $500,000 to Center for Produce Safety’s current capital campaign to fund fresh produce food-safety research. In making the announcement with CPS officials, company President John P. Olivo urged the fresh produce industry to “drive together” and “never rest” in the shared quest to enhance produce safety.
Fresh Express’s support of CPS is motivated by two drivers, according to Olivo: the company’s foundational commitment to product safety and to further CPS’s produce safety-centric mission to fund science, find solutions and fuel change.
For Fresh Express, “food protection excellence is embedded as an essential value throughout the entire Fresh Express network and family of employees and partners,” said Olivo. “Everything we do is dedicated first and foremost to ensuring that our products are safe, and that the trust consumers place in us to deliver highest quality, food-safe products is earned – each and every day.”
For example, Fresh Express Vice President, Food Safety and Quality John Gurrisi noted that after the 2006 fresh spinach foodborne illness outbreak, the industry experienced a turning point. That’s when Fresh Express first invested in peer-reviewed research to learn more about foodborne pathogens and possible root causes of leafy greens contamination.
“Those projects yielded some eye-opening results, and reinforced the absolute necessity for shared food safety research to protect public health,” Gurrisi said in a news release. “Fresh Express donated its first $500,000 to CPS in 2015 to fund continuing research efforts, and is why Fresh Express has made another priority contribution now to help fund CPS’s current important work.”
CPS answers industry’s top produce safety questions
Fresh Express’ $500,000 goes to CPS’s latest research capital fundraising campaign, which will finance the center’s work for five years. To date, dozens of organizations from across the fresh produce supply chain have contributed $8.2 million to the campaign.
Here’s how CPS puts that funding to work: Each year, the center’s diverse Technical Committee identifies the industry’s top produce safety questions, then calls on researchers to answer them. Learnings are then shared with industry, government, public health and other produce safety stakeholders through a range of knowledge transfer tools, including: a searchable online research database; emails and webinars; columns in top produce-industry trade media outlets; CPS social media feeds; and an annual Research Symposium, to be held June 21-22 this year in San Diego.
Since its founding in 2007, the Center for Produce Safety has invested $36 million to date in 211 produce-centric food safety research projects.
Olivo: “Drive together”, “Never rest”
Fresh Express’s Olivo called on his counterparts across the fresh produce supply chain to come together to advance the cause of fresh produce food safety in general, and to support CPS specifically.
“The fresh produce industry must unify around food safety. We all need to drive together toward common food safety goals, rather than individually or competitively,” he said. “That’s what will ensure the greatest protection for consumers, and ultimately lead to the greatest success for everyone.”
Toward that end, he urged industry to join Fresh Express in supporting CPS.
“It is imperative that the fresh produce industry continually advance mitigation strategies that are grounded in science, to safeguard the fresh produce supply and to protect public health,” he said. “From its inception, CPS has been fulfilling its critical produce-centric role with rigorous research, integrity and transparency.”
“Never rest,” Olivo concluded.
A current list of contributors to CPS’s new fundraising campaign can be viewed at www.centerforproducesafety.org/2020-campaign.php.