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DAVIS, Calif. -- Representatives from the country's leading produce trade associations and California Dept. of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura have unveiled plans to create a Center for Produce Safety at the University of California here.
The Center will be housed at UC Davis' Western Institute for Food Safety and Security (WIFSS), whose mission is to conduct research that enhances the safety and security of the nation's food supply.
The Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association (PMA) is contributing $2 million to establish the center while Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms has also pledged to contribute an additional $2 million in cash, as well another $1 million of research already planned by the company. PMA will work with the state of California, which also is contributing $500,000, and other leading industry association to secure additional funding for research and training initiatives.
Said California Secretary of Agriculture A.G. Kawamura: "The Center for Produce Safety will lose no time putting together an aggressive research, training, and outreach agenda into how and where foodborne illnesses arise in produce, and actions that can be taken to reduce these risks."
The industry's actions will help restore consumer confidence and demonstrate that the health and safety of consumers is their ultimate priority, added Kawamura.
"The success of the produce industry depends on our collective commitment to public health," said PMA President Bryan Silbermann. "Our members, who represent every link of the nation's produce supply chain, are committed to supporting robust food safety programs based on the best science available. The Center for Produce Safety will significantly advance the entire industry's collective knowledge about food safety, and help ensure consumers continue to enjoy safe, wholesome, and healthy produce, every bite, every time."
Bruce Taylor, chairman and c.e.o. of Taylor Farms, said he considers the contribution his company is making "as an investment in the future of our company and the produce industry. I encourage my colleagues across the entire supply chain to contribute at whatever level possible to ensure that the Center for Produce Safety is able to advance an aggressive research agenda that provides produce companies with the guidance needed to further enhance food safety efforts."
The Center for Produce Safety will primarily focus on two critical objectives, foremost of which is a clearinghouse for all available research related to produce safety -- the first in the industry designed to capture all existing scientific data on food safety in one central repository. Second, the center will fund new scientific studies focused on developing new solutions that mitigate risks associated with the nation's produce supply.
Allocation of the center's research investments and oversight of active research projects will be led by a governing body consisting of leaders from industry, associations, government, and academia. Details of this body are currently under development.