(Oct. 5) The Center for Produce Safety at the University of California-Davis has chosen a produce food safety veteran of 25 years to be its interim executive director.

Devon Zagory has worked with farmers, the fresh-cut industry and university researchers in the past, according to an Oct. 5 news release. The center was launched earlier this year to unite various organizations and to serve as a library, research clearinghouse and funding source for food safety related programs.

Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC-Davis, said in the release that Zagory has the ability to lead the center in its efforts to ensure consumers are eating safe fruits and vegetables.

“We are confident that Dr. Zagory, with his strong knowledge of produce safety and his extensive experience with the produce industry, will effectively launch the Center for Produce Safety’s outreach objectives,” Van Alfen said in the release.

Zagory is a co-founder of Davis Fresh Technologies, now NSF-Davis Fresh, where he still serves as senior vice president for food safety and quality programs. He also works as an international consultant in food microbiology and modified-atmosphere packaging, the release said.

He was co-chair of the Technical Committee of the International Fresh-cut Produce Association and was editor-in-chief of the third edition of the IFPA’s Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh-cut Produce Industry, the release said.

Zagory has doctoral and master’s degrees in plant pathology and a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science from the University of California-Berkeley.

He also spent eight years as an associate pomologist in the former department of pomology — now plant sciences — at UC-Davis and has written multiple chapters and scientific publications.

“The center will serve as a nexus for developing and implementing safer practices with its many collaborators,” Zagory said in the release. “We must reinforce consumers’ confidence in the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables as an integral part of a healthful diet.”

The Center for Produce Safety’s initial funding came from Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the University of California.