California citrus industry invests half a million in CPS produce safety research
Citrus producers from California are making a collective $500,000 contribution to Center for Produce Safety’s research capital campaign to fund produce-specific food safety research.
The funds will support CPS’s work to identify produce safety questions, call on researchers to answer them, and then share the learnings to industry, government, public health and other stakeholders.
When asked what motivated one of the citrus company’s, Sunkist, to support the CPS, President and CEO Jim Phillips pointed to his company’s history of leadership.
“As the longest-standing agricultural cooperative in the nation, it’s important to us that we are always delivering a safe product to consumers,” Phillips said. “Sunkist is doing our part to represent California citrus at the highest level, by supporting critical food safety research.”
President Zak Laffite of Wonderful Citrus noted the citrus industry’s commitment to consumer health and well-being motivated the industry’s repeat contribution to CPS.
“Our company’s promise is simple: To provide the safest, freshest-quality citrus, today and tomorrow. Ensuring that we lead on food safety practices is one way we make food safety paramount,” said Laffite. “Similarly, as an industry, investing in Center for Produce Safety is an industry-wide food safety best practice.”
Since its founding in 2007, CPS has invested $22 million to date in 187 produce-centric food safety research projects at 44 research institutions in the United States and four other countries. Most projects are completed in 1-2 years; learnings are posted on CPS’s website for all to access. CPS’s current research priorities include evaluating agricultural water treatments, mitigating and preventing listeria, cleaning and sanitizing facilities, organic produce safety and more.
CPS spreads its research learnings through a range of tools, including an online research database, emails and webinars, columns in trade media outlets, social media and an annual Research Symposium – held virtually via webinars in 2020 and 2021.
Sun Pacific Shippers President Al Bates stressed the importance of supporting the science of food safety and approaching it from a practical, industry-centric standpoint.
“Food safety is a fundamental part of our business, Sun Pacific has incorporated it into all farming, harvesting and packing operations,” Bates said. “Center for Produce Safety has been instrumental in researching and communicating various issues to the food safety auditing community that has allowed produce operations like ours to continue to operate efficiently and effectively while also complying with current food safety guidelines. I encourage all suppliers, industry groups and retailers to support CPS so the produce community can strive to deliver the safest food supply in the world to our consumers,” Bates said.
CPS launched its latest research fundraising campaign publicly in January 2021.
A current list of contributors can be viewed here.
The Center for Produce Safety is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. CPS is a collaborative partnership that leverages the combined expertise of industry, government and the scientific and academic communities to focus on providing research needed to continually enhance food safety. This level of collaboration allows CPS to fill the knowledge gaps on produce food safety and address both research priorities and immediate industry needs.
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