The Center for Produce Safety has chosen 11 new research projects to fund, granting $2.7 million to research including listeria’s tolerance to sanitizers and disinfecting packinghouse washwater.
Dave Corsi, vice president of produce and floral at Wegman’s Food Markets and chairman of the Center for Produce Safety board of directors, said grant recipients are tackling the most pressing produce food safety issues.
“Right now you hear a lot about Cyclospora causing issues with fresh produce, or about how transference of pathogens in water is initiating problems in general in our industry," Corsi said in a news release.
The lead researchers, and the projects they are working on, are:
- Ana Allende, PhD, Centro de Edafologia y Biologia Aplicada del Segura: Produce surface treatments based on bacteriophages and bacteriocin-producing cultures to consistently reduce 2-log of Listeria monocytogenes on leafy greens and pre-cut fruit and vegetables;
- Paul Dawson, Clemson University: Verification and validation of environmental monitoring programs for biofilm control in the packinghouse;
- Xiangyu Deng University of Georgia: Possibility, duration, and molecular predictors of sanitizer tolerance in Listeria monocytogenes;
- Laurel Dunn, University of Georgia: Environmental microbial risks associated with vented produce in distribution centers;
- Alexander Fridman, Drexel University: Post-harvest fresh produce wash water disinfection by submerged cold plasma non-chemical continuous treatment system;
- Kalmia Kniel, University of Delaware: Analysis of the presence of Cyclospora in waters of the Mid-Atlantic states and evaluation of removal and inactivation by filtration;
- Mia Mattioli, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sources and prevalence of Cyclospora cayetanensis in Southeastern US irrigation water sources and growing environments;
- Ynés Ortega, University of Georgia: The prevalence of Cyclospora in water and produce;
- Gloria Sánchez Moragas, Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos: Occurrence and accumulation of potentially infectious viruses in process water and impact of water disinfection practices to minimize viral cross-contamination;
- Martin Wiedmann, Cornell University: Factors affecting persistence of Listeria monocytogenes need to be identified for evaluation and prioritization of interventions; and
- Martin Wiedmann, Cornell University: Listeria develops reduced sanitizer sensitivity but not resistance at recommended sanitizer use levels.
The funds came from a variety of sources, according to the release, including:
- The Center for Produce Safety campaign contributors;
- Specialty Crop Block Grants from the California Department of Food and Agriculture;
- The Washington State Department of Agriculture;
- The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; and
- The Texas Department of Agriculture.