To enhance produce safety programs, companies must have credible, practical solutions that are founded in science. That’s why the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) exists. One of the central elements of the PMA Issues Leadership portfolio is funding scientific research that addresses industry needs. With ongoing food safety recalls reported every week, the safety of the products we produce is a key priority for PMA and should be a priority for each company that produces fresh fruits and vegetables.
In 2007, PMA joined with Taylor Farms and the University of California at Davis to found CPS. PMA’s initial $2 million investment and subsequent donations have covered all the administrative costs at CPS for the last eight years, permitting all other donations to go exclusively to funding produce safety research.
What makes this approach unique is that it pulls together various stakeholders to advance produce safety research that is useful for the industry. These studies answer questions that lead directly to practical applications companies can put in place to enhance their specific food safety programs. These stakeholders include industry companies and experts, academia, government regulators, and more.
CPS pioneered this public/private partnership that has leveraged publically available research funds largely derived from awards through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and matched against private industry funds. This essentially doubles the industry investment in research and extends the number of projects and subsequent produce safety knowledge gained for the industry.
Since 2008, CPS has funded more than 112 research projects and invested $18.4 million at 32 institutions around the world. This research has yielded answers to critical questions surrounding food safety practices in fruit, vegetable, and tree nut production. Each year CPS holds a research symposium to share research results with the produce industry and to facilitate discussions between scientists and industry leaders on how the research can be used to improve practices and manage potential produce safety risks. A listing of the research programs funded by CPS can be found at the CPS website
. A summary of key findings from CPS research programs can be found at pma.com
Since September 2015, CPS has been engaged in a fundraising campaign seeking $20 million over a five-year timeframe. CPS is targeting the entire global produce supply chain from growers, packers, and processors to retailers, foodservice companies, commodity groups, and trade associations. The CPS Campaign for Produce Safety will position CPS to double its output of industry-focused produce safety research by the end of the decade and to broaden the scope of that research both geographically and throughout the supply chain.
With focus on the implementation of new regulations emanating from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the industry will continue to identify new research priorities and fine-tune existing priorities. As a result, this next phase of CPS funding will be critical for the entire industry. To date, CPS has received commitments for nearly $9 million and the momentum is building. I encourage you to learn more, to get involved, and to support CPS’s work. To do that, please visit the CPS website
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