2016 CPS Research Symposium Key Learnings
August 1, 2016
This month's research report is dedicated to the scientists and their projects that were presented at the 2016 CPS Research Symposium. Special thanks to the Produce Marketing Association for preparing this document.
2016 CPS Research Symposium
Overview: The seventh annual CPS Research Symposium was held in Seattle, WA on June 28-29, 2016. As in years past, the produce safety research community came together to share the latest results from CPS-funded programs and to discuss how the data can be used to build risk and science-based food safety programs for produce companies all along the supply chain. The interpretation of food safety research results and application to individual companies is most appropriately the undertaking of those that reside within those specific operations. However, we highlight these key learnings from the CPS Symposium to create awareness and stimulate thought.
Among the key findings from the 2016 CPS Research Symposium:
- It is important to learn from illness outbreaks and recalls to prevent repeating the same mistakes. The U.S. apple industry was dramatically impacted by a 2014 outbreak of listeriosis traced back to caramelized apples originating from a relatively small California apple producer. A general session at the Symposium dissected the outbreak from a scientific and public health perspective.
- Generic E. coli has limitations as an indicator for irrigation water quality. We have three options for measuring the microbial quality of irrigation water: (a) test for microorganisms that serve as indicators for the presence of fecal contamination and a proxy potential public health risk, (b) test for indexing microorganisms that estimate a microbial hazard whereby an increase in number correlates with an increased probability of a human pathogen presence and (c) measure human pathogens directly.
- Alternative microbial water quality indicators and indexing organisms are on the horizon. There are a number of exciting efforts to find better indicators and indexing organisms to permit actionable irrigation water quality evaluations.
- It is important to sample irrigation water sources correctly. That certainly sounds logical, but in recent years a number of questions have been raised about how to sample various irrigation water sources when testing microbial quality.
- Irrigation water sources can be treated with disinfectants, but... If a grower finds an irrigation water source that is out of compliance, it would be desirable to be able to treat the water to mitigate the problem.
Understanding the genetics and gene expression in production environments will drive the next level of understanding in produce food safety.