The Center for Produce Safety is funding its first research project to study the effectiveness of water treatments used for irrigation and other uses in agriculture.
The $200,000 from CPS will be matched by regional produce safety stakeholders from the Southwest U.S., according to a news release from the center. Those include industry, academia, government and technology providers.
"This project is groundbreaking for CPS and for the fresh produce industry, as we take the first step toward finding solutions to help our industry address the critical issue of safe ag water treatments," Dave Corsi, CPS board chairman and vice president of produce and floral for Wegmans Food Markets, said in the release. "This is also just the beginning — this project sets a precedent for future CPS awards to fund research in this area."
The one-year project, led by associate professor of environmental science Channah Rock of the University of Arizona, will study antimicrobial ag water treatments in Yuma and Maricopa, Ariz., and Edinburg and Uvalde, Texas.
Recent produce safety efforts have focused on agricultural water use particularly in the Yuma, Ariz., growing area after E. coli outbreaks in leafy greens were traced to the area.
Researchers will focus on three treatments: peracetic acid, calcium hypochlorite and ultraviolet light, according to the release. The project “will be mindful” of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule requirements for treating water, according to the release, to ensure recommendations that result from the research will comply with the federal food safety law.
The CPS is establishing an industry advisory committee to “inform and support the research team,” according to the release.
For a summary of the project, see Agricultural Water Treatment — Southwest region.