Jan. 1, 2012 - Dec. 31, 2013Award Number
Richard Pleus, Ph.D.
In view of the passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the food industry, including the specialty crop industry, is under increased pressure to demonstrate the safety of their products. Although apples have a reputation with consumers as being a safe commodity, the fresh market apple industry would like to deepen its understanding of why their commodity is safe and how it can be made safer if needed. To this end, our proposal seeks to provide the industry with a microbiological risk assessment for apples. We will use data collected by the apple industry in their food safety programs to examine the potential occurrence of pathogens on apples in the production and packing environments. This data, along with data on apple consumption, will be used to estimate the exposure of American consumers to potentially contaminated apples. The risk assessment will conclude with an estimate of the risk of becoming ill from consuming apples potentially contaminated with pathogens. Information about specific areas of risk will allow apple growers and packers to adjust their practices and allocate their food safety resources more effectively while enhancing the safety of fresh market apples for consumers.