This triumph, though, belongs not to any one man or one association or one company, it belongs to an industry that, separated by different products, different geographies and different segments, came together when the chips were down to find a new path to success.
Rob Atwill, Interim Director, Western Institute for Food Safety and Security; Bryan Silbermann, President, PMA; Linda Harris, Associate Director of Research, Western Institute for Food Safety and Security
The race is not run, success may not be certain, E.coli may long be a problem, but let the record show that in Davis, California, on the 11th of April, 2007, the produce industry expressed its faith in the human intellect and imagination as the root from which solutions to our problems can spring.
And as the members of this industry know better than most, great oaks really do grow from little acorns.
Here is the way PMA described the event:
PRODUCE INDUSTRY LEADERS LAUNCH
produce Marketing Association Pledges $2 Million to Establish Center and Fund Scientific Studies Designed to Improve Food Safety; Taylor Farms Matches Cash Donation
DAVIS, Calif. (April 11, 2007) — Representatives from the country’s leading produce trade associations and Calif. Dept. of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura today announced plans to create a Center for Produce Safety at the University of California, Davis. 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 Produce Marketing Association (PMA) is contributing $2 million to establish the Center. Taylor Farms of Salinas, Calif. 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 Calif., which also is contributing $500,000, and other leading industry association to secure additional funding for research and training initiatives.
“I commend the produce industry and the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security for collaborating with government to launch the new Center for Produce Safety at the University of California at Davis,” 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 food borne 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.”
“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 CEO of Taylor Farms agreed, noting, “I consider the contribution Taylor Farms is making today 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. First, it will serve as an unprecedented clearinghouse for all available research related to produce safety. This initiative is 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.
RESEARCH INITIATIVE PART OF COMPREHENSIVE
The creation of the Center for Produce Safety is the direct result of an industry-wide collaborative response to recent E. Coli outbreaks. In the fall of 2006, the Produce Marketing Association, other industry association partners and government agencies focused on investigating the cause of the outbreaks and expediting efforts to protect against the risks of future outbreaks.
In addition to the investments in new research, produce industry leaders and food safety experts from the State of California are also launching science-based training and outreach programs. The field-level training support will supplement programs already in place by individual produce growers and handlers and ensure they include the latest scientific information and established good agricultural practices.
The Center for Produce Safety and enhanced field level training and outreach programs supplement the industry’s recent progress in establishing a comprehensive set of new guidelines agreed to by the spinach and leafy greens industry.
Here is the official announcement from UC Davis.