Organic growers sought for survey on food safety
Alda Pires, a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension specialist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the standards are based on little scientific information and require more research and field testing.
Pires and Michele Jay-Russell, program manager with the Western Center for Food Safety, are co-principal investigators on a project to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens on organic farms. They would like UC Cooperative Extension advisors who work with organic produce growers to assist the project by inviting the growers to participate in a new survey on manure use and food safety. The direct link to the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/manurefoodsafety.
The School of Veterinary Medicine and its partners recently brought together more than 30 producers, industry members and experts from across the country to discuss food safety in the fast-growing segment of organic agriculture, as part of a project funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). Participants included representatives from the UC Davis Western Center for Food Safety, the Organic Trade Association, the FDA Division of Produce Safety and the Division of Risk and Decision Analysis, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the Association of Compost Producers, the Organic Center, among others.
Information gathered at the workshop on the industry's use of manure and compost will help project leaders develop a full-scale research proposal to assess the efficacy of practices in the U.S. to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens on organic farms. It will also help inform and guide policy such as the FDA's Produce Safety Rule that is recommending more research on waiting periods between raw manure application and harvest.
Facilitated by Pires and Jay-Russell, the workshop featured in-depth discussions, surveys and listening sessions on issues important to organic farmers. Topics included the use of raw manure and compost, rotational grazing practices and extension needs including technology innovations and other tools to help them comply with new food safety regulations.
“We need to work together to leverage our efforts to prevent foodborne illnesses in the U.S.,” said Jay-Russell. “While one size won't fit all, organic farmers want and need scientific-based tools to help them adapt to change and ensure food safety.”
This national project is a collaboration with the Western Center for Food Safety, which conducts related research, and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's Western Institute for Food Safety and Security.