Recently I was given the opportunity to represent Birko at the 6th annual Center for Produce Safety Research Symposium in Atlanta, GA centerforproducesafety.org. The symposium covered many pressing issues for the produce industry including studies regarding risks from irrigation water, Post-Harvest food safety hazards, and pathogen control on fruit surfaces through the use of wash water. The CPS did a fantastic job of gathering the best & brightest from academia and industry as well as bringing in the CDC for a discussion regarding PulseNET and breakdowns of recent foodborne illness investigations.
A recurring theme during the two day conference included the importance of food safety along all sectors of the food chain. Food safety doesn’t end once the crop leaves the farm or packinghouse.
There was also representation from the retail sector. It was interesting to hear, from the retail perspective, how the average consumer needs to be educated on the importance of food safety in the home, and that there is a distinct difference between quality, nutritional, and food safety issues. This is especially important due to an increase of 49% in “local” produce consumption at the retail level.
After attending the CPS, it was apparent that more industry representatives should take the opportunity to attend the symposium. It serves as an opportunity for growers, packers, and shippers to get into the same room with the most brilliant minds in produce food safety and learn about how to improve their individual food safety programs. The CPS symposium also serves the opportunity to gather new information from the mouths of the researchers who have experienced these studies at each step of the way.
For more information regarding this topic, I encourage you to attend this free webinar to be held on July 15th.