Grants to boost produce safety research, consumer education

Grants to boost produce safety research, consumer education

Through a $100,000 grant from the Center for Produce Safety, Jordan College Department Chair Steven Pao along with Erin Dormedy will oversee a one-year study designed to improve sanitizing treatments in stone fruit packinghouses.

Fresno State’s Food Science and Nutrition Department has received two grants to target produce safety research and consumer education.

Through a $100,000 grant from the Center for Produce Safety, Jordan College Department Chair Steven Pao along with Erin Dormedy will oversee a one-year study designed to improve sanitizing treatments in stone fruit packinghouses.

The study will conducted in conjunction with the California Fresh Fruit Association and area stone fruit producers.

Pau said, “This is an exciting and innovative opportunity to work with the fruit industry. The Central Valley is the leading producer for stone fruit nationally, and our research facilities and faculty can study and help implement new sanitizing technologies.”

He says the study will help develop novel food safety methods and reflect on Jordon College as a leader in agricultural research.

Specifically, research will focus on natural microbial levels on contact surfaces in the sorting and handling process, plus evaluate potential pathogens and their growth on surfaces in different temperature and humidity conditions, and the effectiveness of cleaning treatments.

Pathogens will be measured on sorting and sizing machinery to develop new methods for sanitizing the equipment on-site during the production process. Carriers and equipment are currently sanitized using time-consuming methods including equipment disassembly and cleaning at other locations.

Microbial samples will be tested by Fresno State staff and students at the campus food microbiology laboratory. The research results will be reported through industry meetings, workshops, publications, and technical journals.

The second grant was awarded to Fresno State’s Lisa Herzig, a food science and nutrition professor. The $5,000 grant from the Produce for Better Health Foundation is for its Grocery Store Tour public education program which fosters collaboration with university nutrition programs.

The program trains nutrition and dietetic students to host grocery store tours for college students and the community to share fruit and vegetable nutrition information and answer consumer questions.

Also, an experienced supermarket dietitian will train Fresno State students about corporate marketing and private label products, lead a grocery store tour, and teach them about consumer misperceptions about fruit and vegetables.

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