NECAFS Receives Funding for Produce Safety Research Consortium

Woman inspecting field grown lettuce on a farm.
Photo credit: U. S. Food and Drug Administration

UVM Extension’s Northeast Center to Advance Food Safety (NECAFS) has received a five-year, $1.38 million grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to establish a Northeast Produce Safety Research Consortium.

NECAFS will lead this consortium and coordinate the on-farm sampling and lab analysis of produce production and handling environments to better understand human pathogen risks in the food system. The goal of this work is to understand the prevalence and survivability of human pathogens in produce systems common in the Northeast region. An integrated, whole-system approach to sampling is desired that covers seasonal and year-to-year influences as well as capturing farm-to-farm variability among similar cropping systems.

NECAFS is one of four USDA-funded regional centers tasked with coordinating training, education and outreach related to the Food Safety Modernization Acts (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and Preventive Controls for Human Foods Rule. NECAFS’ work supports a national food safety training, education, Extension, outreach, and technical assistance system among small and medium-sized producers and small processors.

NECAFS will work closely with regional university partners to collect on-farm samples from the following cropping systems: wild blueberries, leafy greens, apples, and carrots. Following collection, samples will be analyzed by lab partners at the University of Maine and the University of Delaware. This project will strive to make connections between project analysis data and how research is applicable to on-farm implementation of the Produce Safety Rule.

This project is led by NECAFS Assistant Director Elizabeth Newbold, Director Chris Callahan and Research Specialist Sean Fogarty.

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