PLANO, Texas — Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association (United Fresh), joined forces July 18-19 to host an inaugural workshop on preventing and controlling Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in fresh produce. This hands-on workshop was taught by leading subject matter experts from industry, academia and government, and emphasized practical solutions for managing Lm in fresh produce packing and fresh-cut processing operations.
PMA and United Fresh joined forces in September 2016 to form a joint working group to enhance produce safety by reducing Lm risk associated with fresh produce consumption. The Lm working group’s priorities are advocating for appropriate regulatory policy, focused research, and education and information sharing. This workshop was the direct result of recommendations from the working group and the efforts of its volunteer leaders.
Sixty-five persons from across the fresh produce supply chain participated in the sold-out “Listeria monocytogenes Intervention & Control Workshop”, held at Pizza Hut Headquarters in Plano, Texas. Modeled after American Meat Institute’s very successful Lm Intervention and Control workshop, the PMA/United Fresh workshop was specific to the fresh produce industry. The course included sharing learnings, strategies and tactics used in other allied food industries to combat and control Lm in food handling operations. The course challenged participants, who are involved in all aspects of produce packing and fresh-cut processing operations, to apply the knowledge they gained at this workshop to their businesses.
• PMA’s Jim Gorny, Ph.D. and United Fresh’s Jennifer McEntire, Ph.D.
• Industry and/or food safety experts John Butts, Ph.D. of FoodSafetyByDesign, Jim Byron of Xgenx, Justin Kerr of Factor IV Solutions LLC, Elis Owens, Ph.D. with Birko Corp., Joe Stout with Commercial Food Sanitation and Peter Taormina, Ph.D. with Etna Food Safety Consulting
• Produce safety experts Trevor Suslow, Ph.D. of University of California Davis, and Martin Wiedmann, Ph.D. of Cornell University
• Mickey Parish, Ph.D., U.S. Food and Drug Administration senior science advisor
“The immediate and overwhelming positive response to this event indicates the produce industry’s level of commitment to assuring the safety of their foods on a daily basis. We are gratified by the tremendous active engagement by participants, instructors and companies who support enhancing produce safety by participating in this workshop,” said Jennifer McEntire, Ph.D., United Fresh vice president, food safety & technology.
The two-day workshop included general session presentations and panel discussions, case study presentations, and breakout sessions on diverse topics including sanitary design, sanitation best practices and environmental monitoring.
“We thank all the volunteer leaders who helped develop the curriculum, and the instructors who delivered this event’s comprehensive and focused content that industry members can use immediately. This was an excellent opportunity for industry, academia and government to come together and learn from our collective knowledge about how to combat and control Lm effectively and efficiently in produce operations,” noted Gorny, PMA vice president of food safety & technology.
The work group and associations’ staff plan to partner with allied trade organizations to deliver similar regional or commodity-specific Lm intervention and control workshops for the produce industry.
“This PMA and United Fresh powerhouse event provides an excellent education outreach model for the produce industry to move the ball forward on produce safety and we look forward to teaming with PMA and United Fresh to bring this winning formula to our members in Florida,” said Jill Dunlop, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association manager of food safety and sustainability.