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You Can Be There As History Is Unveiled: The Center For Produce Safety Reveals Its Research Results

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, June 11, 2010

Fresh Express had put together a fabulous presentation of the research results of research conducted with Fresh Express money under the auspices of Michael T. Osterholm, an esteemed academic and public health professional who, when he isn’t saving the world from influenza, manages to help Fresh Express continuously improve its food safety program.

We found the results fascinating and profiled them in this piece:

Fast-Tracked Food Safety Research Findings Presented At Fresh Express

Now the baton has been passed to the Center for Produce Safety, whose launch we profiled with this piece:

Center For Produce Safety Established: An Act Of Faith In The Future

The Center for Produce Safety has evolved in ways the founders barely had the right to hope for. In addition to raising money and funding its own research, it has become the “go-to organization” when any facet of the industry wants to conduct rigorous research on any aspect of food safety.

It has the infrastructure set up so that it can quickly and efficiently get out requests for proposals, evaluate what it gets back and get the research rolling, monitoring it along the way and bringing it to a successful conclusion.

This means that more and better research is being done on food safety because, in the absence of the Center for Produce Safety, it would be so daunting for organizations to come up with the infrastructure to make good research happen.

There were obviously many people and organizations behind this, but special kudos must be paid to PMA. This was not the kind of project that could quickly pay off. It required a kind of visionary leadership that saw beyond the current budget cycle. It also required an association with a business model that produced lots of surplus to invest for the industry. Bryan Silbermann, President at PMA, deserves a lot of credit for this vision. As do a lot of directors over the last few years who have sustained the vision.

Of course, opportunity met preparation as PMA’s chairman at the time of the CPS founding was Bruce Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Taylor Farms, and he and Taylor Farms provided important financial support and industry heft toward making the CPS a success. Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, executive director, who we profiled in this piece, Bonnie Fernandez Takes Helm Of Center for Produce Safety, has ingenuously stood astride the academic and industry worlds — transversing the intrigue that is every major university with the industry and associations, which all have their own needs. Particularly balancing academia’s need for peer review and reproducible experiments with the industry’s desire for quickly useable information is a continuing challenge.

She has been helped in this task by the good services of Tim York, President of Markon Cooperative and Chairman of the Center for Produce Safety, who we have heard from, among other places, in these pieces:

A Call For An Industrywide Sustainability And Social Responsibility Initiative

Markon Looks To Produce Specialist ProPacific Fresh To Increase Service

Tim York Takes Leadership Role In Food Safety Crisis

Single Step Award Winner — Tim York of Markon

Obviously, other organizations, such as WGA, UC Davis — where the Center is located, governmental agencies and many companies and individuals have all worked hard to help build an institution that allows us to better understand how food safety really works.

And, now, like a tree coming into bloom or a fruit suddenly bursting into ripeness, the Center for Produce Safety is ready to showcase the results of some of its research:

The Center for Produce Safety’s (CPS) inaugural Produce Research Symposium is being supported by a broad range of sponsors, reflecting the broad value that the symposium is expected to bring to the produce industry when it convenes next month. This unique event presenting results of CPS-funded research projects and their real-world applications will be held Wednesday, June 23 at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the University of California, Davis.

Sponsors making this event possible include platinum sponsor Produce Marketing Association (PMA), gold sponsors iGPS and Taylor Farms, and silver sponsors Castellini Group of Companies, Chiquita Brands International/Fresh Express, C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., Ecolab, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Florida — IFAS, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, The Giumarra Companies, Microsoft Dynamics and UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

"The diversity of the industry leaders who have chosen to sponsor this event reflects the value that the CPS offers by bringing various pools of knowledge together for the purpose of addressing a common goal," said CPS Executive Director Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli. "We can’t thank our sponsors enough for their support in helping bring this vital event to our industry.

The immediate applicability of the research is woven throughout the day’s sessions which include diverse discussion panels. "The opportunity to have researchers, private companies and government representatives all sitting down to discuss the latest research specific to the produce industry is something we couldn’t pass up," said Bill Schuler, Castellini president & CEO, and chairman of PMA’s Board of Directors. "Our responsibility in the food safety arena is not only to do the best we can within our company, but also to contribute to continuous improvement in our industry at large. Supporting the CPS and this symposium reflects our commitment in this area."

It will be a grand event, with breakfast, lunch and an evening reception held at the stunning Mondavi Center at UC Davis. But the core is the opportunity to hear researchers present their findings.

Time is running out and places are limited. Pre-registration was due to expire on the 11th, but we’ve gotten special permission to keep registration open through Monday, June 14, 2010.

So call (530) 757-5777 or register here.

The Pundit is sorry to say he can’t make it. We agreed many months ago to give a speech on the evening of the 23rd to the Santa Barbara Committee on Foreign Relations and on the 24th to the famed Chanel City Club, also in Santa Barbara. That means we will be counting on Pundit readers to share their best take aways from the Center for Produce Safety event.

We are even going to give away a $100 American Express gift card to the most incisive take on the CPS research presentations.

If you can be there, go. You may be able to tell your grandchildren that you were present the moment a solution to food safety issues crystallized.

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