Last Saturday night, the CBS Evening News aired a six-minute special report on food safety. The research component for the story featured an appearance by UC Davis Cooperative Extension food safety specialist Linda Harris, in which she explained work underway to understand the potential food safety impact of irrigation practices on leafy green vegetables.
Reporter Bill Witaker noted that cutting edge research is being conducted around the country to find out how pathogens make it onto fresh produce and how to reduce the risk. He used the UC Davis Center for Produce Safety as a case in point.
Interviewed inside her lab, Harris told Whitaker the effectiveness of her work is "hard to prove, it's hard to measure, but I really think we do make a difference."
UC research isn't confined to laboratories. Three UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors in Monterey County - Steve Koike, Richard Smith and Michael Cahn - are working with campus-based researchers to determine the ability of the deadly E. coli 0157:H7 to survive in the field.
They reported in UC Delivers that they used harmless E. coli as surrogate organisms to evaluate how variations in soil moisture and environmental conditions impact the organism's survival in soil, water and on plant surfaces. In addition, experiments on E. coli source-tracking, detection technologies and field ecology are being conducted to gather information from an environment that reflects the actual farming conditions of the local agricultural industry.