UMD Researchers Help to Identify Best Food Safety Practices for Tomatoes, Leafy Greens

UMD Researchers Help to Identify Best Food Safety Practices for Tomatoes, Leafy Greens

After continuing outbreaks of foodborne diseases associated with fresh and fresh-cut produce, such as salmonella, enterohemorrhagic escherichia coli and listeria monocytogenes, a research project is underway led by Dr. Robert Buchanan, the director of the Center for Food Safety and Security Systems at the University of Maryland, to verify the best food safety practices for tomato and leafy greens production, processing and transportation. Other food specialists involved are from the University of Maryland, the Ohio State University, the University of Florida, the University of California at Davis, and the University of Delaware. The research project, now in its second year, is scheduled to last three years but could be extended to five years

The recent signing of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act requires the FDA to develop produce safety regulations and to implement performance, making it even more critical for a solid set of metrics to be developed and validated. This project is helping with the development of guidelines as well as tailoring them to fit the needs of different sized operations, regions, climates, countries and agricultural practices. Research trials consider four sets of risks factors: water, environmental parameters, harvesting and processing and temperature/food safely chain management controls. The data from these research trials is combined with sample data from growers, packers, and processors to provide the scientific basis for this study.

The goals of the study are to develop new tools that will allow guidelines for tomatoes and leafy greens to be validated and evaluated for cost effectiveness, to assist the industry and government agencies to develop and/or modify guidelines, and to develop programs to transfer knowledge gained to the produce industry and government agencies. 

For more information, visit: http://www.thegrower.com/news/regions/south/Research-hopes-to-verify-metrics-for-tomatoes-leafy-greens-172671781.html

October 5, 2012


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Kevin Plank, co-founder of Under Armour, is an alumnus of UMD's Robert H. Smith School of Business.