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Leading scientists, industry representatives to discuss E. Coli research, regulation and preparedness
SACRAMENTO – As growers along California’s Central Coast harvest spinach and other leafy greens this spring, California’s State Board of Food and Agriculture will host a session in Monterey to take stock of last year’s E.Coli contamination and the response and research activities that have followed.
The event will take place on Wednesday, April 25, 2007, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1000 Aguajito Road, in Monterey.
“I am heartened by the agricultural community’s response to last year’s E. Coli outbreak,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “Members of this industry are contributing millions of dollars and thousands of hours of effort and training to create the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA), and they have also invested millions of dollars in research to advance the science of food safety.”
Earlier this month, Kawamura joined other members of the agriculture industry and the research community to announce the creation of the new Center for Produce Safety at the University of California, Davis. The launch was made possible by a $2 million donation from the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and the individual commitment of $2 million cash by Taylor Farms of Salinas, California. Taylor Farms also has pledged to contribute $1 million in research already planned by the company. These donations will be augmented by $200,000 in in-kind and cash contributions from the Western Growers Association, $500,000 from the California Department of Food and Agriculture and $150,000 from the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the outreach arm of the University of California.
At the April 25 session, newly appointed LGMA Chairman Joe Pezzini is scheduled to deliver a presentation on how the “Good Agricultural Practices” will be enforced and how this new inspection program will impact the industry. The day’s schedule also includes a report on food safety research by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Microbiologist Abasiofiok Mark Ibekwe, Ph.D.
Regulatory and response efforts will be discussed by panelists representing the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County, the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Grower perspectives will be presented by representatives of The Kroger Company, Fresh Express, EKT Farms, NSF Davis Fresh Technology, the California Strawberry Commission, and West Side Produce.
“It is our responsibility as farmers, and as responsible citizens of California, to respond with due diligence when public health is at risk,” said Al Montna, president of the State Board of Food and Agriculture. “This session on food safety is a timely opportunity to take stock of the efforts of the many growers, researchers and regulators who all must be involved in keeping our food supply safe.”
The California State Board of Food and Agriculture advises the governor and secretary of food and agriculture of findings as they impact agriculture and consumer needs. The board conducts forums that bring together local, state, and federal government officials, agricultural representatives, and citizens to discuss current issues of concern to California agriculture.
All California State Board of Food and Agriculture meetings are open to the media and general public.