Michelle Danyluk, associate professor and Extension specialist at the University of Florida, answers questions on keeping mangoes safe throughout the supply chain with Andre Dijk (center) and Marcel Heythuyzen, both of Hessing, a fresh-cut processor based in The Netherlands. Danyluk, who received funds from the Center for Produce Safety, attended the center's annual symposium in June in Charlotte, N.C. ( File photo )

The Center for Produce Safety has announced 13 new research awards at about $2.6 million.

The research projects, aimed at answering critical questions in specific areas of food safety practices, include research on storage, agricultural water, and risk-based field sampling.

“We are proud to announce this slate of awards led by outstanding scientists from around the globe to answer pressing research needs and advance real-world solutions,” Dave Corsi, vice president of produce and floral at Wegmans Food Markets and CPS chairman, in a news release.

Project funding comes from the center’s Campaign for Produce Safety and state block-grant funds from state agriculture departments in California, Washington, Florida and Texas.

The projects begin in January, according to the release.

Matthew Stasiewicz, Assistant Professor of Food Microbiology at the University of Illinois, is a first-time CPS grant recipient, and plans to simulate in-field produce sampling to guide risk-based sampling plans. The grant makes it possible to partner with industry leaders to validate predictions and field-trial data.

“These partnerships will ensure that our project is a collaboration leading to practical recommendations to improve in-field food safety sampling,” Stasiewicz said in the release.

Elliot Ryser, a professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University, is working with apple growers from Washington, Michigan and Pennsylvania to study Listeria monocytogenes.

According to the release, the two-year project seeks to answer questions including:

  • How long do outbreak strains persist on apples during air and controlled-atmosphere storage?
  • Do different listeria strains have different capabilities for surviving on apples?
  • Does apple waxing increase or decrease listeria survival?

The list of researchers, the projects, and grant amounts are on the CPS website awards page.

  • Ana Allende, Centro de Edafologia y Biologia Aplicada del Segura, Spain — “Significance of Sanitizers on Induction of Viable but Non-Cultivable Foodborne Bacteria and Their Survival and Resuscitation in Fresh Produce;”
  • Kay Cooksey, Clemson University — “Preventive Sanitation Measures for the Elimination of Listeria monocytogenes Biofilms in Critical Postharvest Sites;”
  • Kerry Cooper, University of Arizona — “Illuminating the Role of Whole Genome Sequencing in Produce Safety;”
  • Charles Gerba, University of Arizona — “Development of a Model to Predict the Impact of Sediments on Microbial Irrigation Water Quality;”
  • Emma Hartnett, Risk Sciences International, Canada — “Exploring the Relationship Between Product Testing and Risk;”
  • Renata Ivanek, Cornell University — “Modeling Tools for Design of Science-Based Listeria Environmental Monitoring Programs and Corrective Action Strategies;”
  • Xiuping Jiang, Clemson University — “Identifying Competitive Exclusion Microorganisms Against Listeria monocytogenes From Biological Soil Amendments by Metagenomic, Metatranscriptomic, and Culturing Approaches;”
  • Daniel Karp, University of California-Davis — “Towards a Decision-Support Tool for Identifying and Mitigating On-Farm Risks to Food Safety;”
  • Xiangwu Nou, USDA-ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center — “Listeria monocytogenes Growth Potential, Kinetics, and Factors Affecting its Persistence on a Broad Range of Fresh Produce;
  • Elliot Ryser, Michigan State University — “Fate of Different Listeria monocytogenes Strains on Different Whole Apple Varieties During Long-Term Simulated Commercial Storage;”
  • Matthew Stasiewicz, University of Illinois — “Simulation Analysis of In-Field Produce Sampling for Risk-Based Sampling Plan Development;”
  • Laura Strawn, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University — “A Systematic Review of Listeria Growth and Survival on Fruit and Vegetable Surfaces: Responding to Critical Knowledge Gaps;” and
  • Boce Zhang, University of Massachusetts — “Non-Fouling Food Contact Surfaces - Prevention of Biofilm and Surface-Mediated Cross-Contamination.”