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Australasia stays ahead of the curve on fresh produce safety

MEDIA RELEASE
The Australian and New Zealand fresh produce industries joined together on the 11 August 2014 to take proactive steps to further protect this region’s well-earned reputation for producing safe, quality food by committing to a new centre dedicated to investigating and promoting the safety of the fruit and vegetables we eat and export.
Over 120 representatives of the fresh produce industry, regulators and academics attended the launch of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre at a conference at the University of Sydney on 11 August 2014.
The Fresh Produce Safety Conference also explored latest advances in fresh produce research in Australia and New Zealand, and how to extend research findings to those who need to know.
Timothy York, of US-based Markon Cooperative Inc, told conference delegates how the US fresh produce industry joined together to form the Center for Produce Safety in the US in 2008, in response to a food safety issue in leafy greens in the US in 2006.

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Expressions of Interest close soon for Volunteer Technical Committee Members of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre

Expressions of interest close 5pm Friday 1 August 2014.
Individuals are being invited from across the fresh produce research community and industry to express interest in becoming members of the Technical Committee of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre Ltd. There will be seven volunteer Technical Committee members, including one to be drawn from the FPSC Board.
For full details regarding the application process, please visit: http://wp.me/p2V1mm-yO

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Call for Expressions of Interest for Volunteer Technical Committee Members of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre

 
 
 
 
 
 

About Fresh Produce Safety Centre
The Call for Expressions of Interest
Required Experience and Skills
Role of the Technical Committee
How to Express Interest

About the Fresh Produce Safety Centre
The Fresh Produce Safety Centre is a new, industry-led, not-for-profit company established to enhance fresh produce food safety across Australia and New Zealand through research, outreach and education.
The Centre’s goals are to:

Call for and oversee food safety research projects that are highly relevant to industry
Provide food safety information, news, education and outreach to the industry
Engage with regulatory and other organisations for effective and efficient food safety management leading to enhanced food safety outcomes.

The Centre is funded and led by the fresh produce industries in Australia and New Zealand. It has been established by the Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand (PMA A-NZ) through a Horticulture Australia Limited project with the University of Sydney. The project is funded with voluntary and in-kind contributions from industry, the University and PMA A-NZ, demonstrating widespread support for the Centre. The Centre has two part-time staff (an Executive Director and Administration Officer) and is hosted by the University of Sydney.

The Call for Expressions of Interest for Members of the FPSC Technical Committee
Individuals are being invited from across the fresh produce research community and industry to express interest in becoming members of the Technical Committee of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre Ltd. There will be seven volunteer Technical Committee members, including one to be drawn from the FPSC Board.
Appointment to the Technical Committee will be made by the FPSC Board.

Required Experience and Skills
The Technical Committee of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre will comprise of members with a wide range of expertise and experience in the fresh produce industries and fresh produce research in Australia and/or New Zealand. Technical Committee members are being sought with experience from the following areas:

Industry expertise from across the fresh produce supply chain: growers, input suppliers, processors, packers, transport, wholesalers/agents, retailers
Academic, regulatory and industry-based food and food safety academics and scientists.

We are seeking Technical Committee members with expertise across a range of priority research areas including:

microbial research
allergens in food
water quality and use, including field operations/irrigation, and wash water
pathogens in the supply chain
produce harvest and post-harvest practices, including cooling and transport
compost and organic fertiliser use
chemical residues
regulations and protocols
extension and outreach, and
other research specialities relating to fresh produce safety research.

Role of the Technical Committee
The roles of the members of the Technical Committee of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre are :

Advise the FPSC Board on suitability and selection of priority areas for research activities each year, including the specific priority areas for research to be included in any Calls for Research Proposals.
Review, select and rank submitted research proposals which meet the selection criteria for funding each year.
Recommend to the FPSC Board a short list of proposals suitable for funding each year.
Review both technical- and industry-focused research outputs from funded research projects and advise on suitability for outreach.
Provide ad hoc advice to the Board and staff of the FPSC on fresh produce food safety technical issues, as required.
Meet at least once per year face-to-face and at least one other time by teleconference.

The Technical Committee members will be volunteer and will not be remunerated. The Technical Committee members are encouraged to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses.

How to Express Interest
Please supply a copy of your brief resume and a cover letter outlining your experience in the fresh produce industries and the skills that you would bring to the Fresh Produce Safety Centre, mapped against the criteria outlined above.
The closing time and date for nominations is 5pm Friday 1 August 2014. Please email your letter and brief resume to:
Emma Walters
Interim Executive Director
Fresh Produce Safety Centre
hosted by the University of Sydney
Faculty of Agriculture and Environment
THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY
Room 412, Biomedical Building
1 Central Ave
Australian Technology Park
Eveleigh 2015 NSW
info@freshproducesafety-anz.com
A selection panel from the Fresh Produce Safety Centre Board, will review the applications, interview shortlisted applicants and select the members of the Technical Committee.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Fresh Produce Safety Centre’s interim Executive Director Emma Walters on +61 (2) 8627 1058 or e-mail us using the comment box below if you would like further information.
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This project has been funded by HAL using voluntary contributions from industry and matched funds from the Australian Government.

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Fresh Produce Safety Centre Limited launched

27 May 2014
The Fresh Produce Safety Centre Limited officially opened its doors for business today.

The first meeting of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre’s Board of Directors occurred this morning, following registration of the new company limited by guarantee with ASIC yesterday.

The Centre is being hosted by the University of Sydney under a project with the Produce Marketing Association of Australia and New Zealand (PMA A-NZ).

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Dr. Jim Gorny Appointed as Center for Produce Safety (UC Davis) Technical Committee Chair

—Dr. Bob Whitaker to remain on CPS board of directors—
Newark, Del. â€” Dr. Jim Gorny, Produce Marketing Association (PMA) vice president of food safety and technology, has been appointed as chair of the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) Technical Committee by Steve Patricio, chair of the CPS Board of Directors. Gorny will replace Dr. Bob Whitaker, PMA chief science and technology officer, who has chaired the committee since 2008 and will retain his position on CPS’s board.
 The transition allows CPS to continue to benefit from Gorny’s extensive knowledge of food safety, while providing Whitaker the opportunity to dedicate more time identifying and translating existing and emerging science and technology into useable industry solutions for PMA members.
 “Jim has served as a CPS board and Technical Committee member since our founding, providing CPS an opportunity to tap into his extensive knowledge of food safety, industry practices and produce safety public policy,” said Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, CPS executive director. “He’s certainly no stranger to CPS and food safety and his oversight of the Technical Committee leaves the center and the industry in excellent hands.”
 Gorny is an alumnus of the University of California, Davis, and previously served as the executive director of UC Davis’ Postharvest Technology Research and Information Center. Before recently joining PMA, Gorny worked as senior advisor for U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Food Safety where he advised on policies and programs affecting the safety of fresh produce.
 “Jim has built a career around pushing the ball forward on produce safety by strongly advocating for and developing science and risk-based food safety industry programs and public policy, a commitment shared by PMA,” said Whitaker. “His transition to Technical Committee chair furthers this goal while also allowing me to dedicate more time to the tremendous work that still needs to be done for PMA members in the vast area of science and technology, which extends beyond food safety to also include such areas as supply chain efficiencies, seed technology, processing and packing innovations, and data management methodologies.”
Whitaker steps away from his chairmanship well accomplished, having helped CPS establish a framework for annual grant-funded research that has resulted to date in CPS’s awarding more than $10.6 million to fund 70 projects at 26 institutions in 17 U.S. states and three countries. The CPS Produce Research Symposium reports annually on the research funded by the center.
“Bob has done a tremendous job not only in helping to get CPS’s research grant program up and running, but also in helping us concentrate our limited resources on research areas needed most,” said Fernandez-Fenaroli.
As Technical Committee chair, Gorny will work extensively with the CPS executive director and the committee to identify, fund, translate and provide industry with high priority, impactful produce safety research solutions that enhance produce safety for industry and consumers alike. The Technical Committee reports to the CPS chair and the board. Because food safety is top priority for PMA members, to date PMA’s contributions to CPS total more than $3 million, and half of Gorny’s time will be dedicated to CPS as Technical Committee chair.
PMA President and CEO Bryan Silbermann added, “PMA’s members are so well served by the unmatched insight and experience brought to food safety by Drs. Bob Whitaker and Jim Gorny on our staff team. Bob has done wonders in his role of CPS Technology Committee chairman and has laid a strong foundation.  He’ll remain active on the CPS Board and the Technical Committee.  With Jim running the committee, Bob will increase the added value we deliver to our members as translator and educator – a role in which he excels.”
For more information about Center for Produce Safety as well as to access research findings and summaries from the 2013 CPS Produce Research Symposium and past symposiums, visit http://www.centerforproducesafety.org/

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Increasing the awareness of fresh produce safety is ongoing.

The New South Wales parliamentary Inquiry into the Management of Domestic Wastewater  suggests there had been either a “negligent disregard” for human health or a lack of awareness about the dangers of using raw sewage.
The final report found that untreated effluent is being used on some farms and market gardens as a form of fertiliser and that a small number of farmers deliberately use waste on their crops, additionally it also suggests that many sewage systems on small farms are failing.
Camden MP Chris Patterson, who chaired the inquiry, said most farmers are doing the right thing. “That would be very minimal if that is occurring,” he said.
“It did find out there’s a need for greater education amongst market gardens potentially in non-English backgrounds.”
To increase the awareness of fresh produce safety, FPS A&NZ is looking for support to provide a coordinated approach to research and outreach for industry-identified fresh produce safety issues and challenges in Australia and New Zealand. 
This will be a ‘go-to’ source for all information and news related to food safety and  act as an important interface for information between regulatory bodies and the industry at all parts of the value chain.
The industry has come a long way to bring about greater collaboration on the critical issue of food safety in the fresh produce industry, however work in this area must be ongoing to ensure the health and safety of the consumer and to build on the strengths of the fresh produce industry.
For more information regarding the actions FPS A&NZ is taking to address food safety issues and challenges and how you can be involved contact:
info@freshproducesafety-anz.com

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Produce Industry Leaders Launch Website for Fresh Produce Safety

Press Release: 17 January 2013
University of Sydney’s Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and PMA Australia-New Zealand establish website, dedicated to all aspects of food safety for the fresh produce industries of Australia and New Zealand.
 Representatives from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and PMA Australia-New Zealand, the Australasian region’s leading fresh produce trade association, today announced the launch of the Fresh Produce Safety – Australia & New Zealand (FPS) website.  The FPS website, at www.freshproducesafety-anz.com, has been established as part of a major project to identify a model and priorities for fresh produce safety research and extension, and to raise awareness of the challenges for fresh produce safety and the importance of enhancing current safety practices.
The project, using voluntary funds from both organisations, with matched funding from the Australian Government through Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL), focuses on three critical objectives. First, to plan how the fresh produce industry will handle major food safety outbreaks in the region, particularly in crisis mitigation and management, and consumer communication; second to identify research needs that are specific to the Australian and New Zealand fresh produce industry and to develop local or international collaborative partnerships in research, outreach and education to address these needs; and third, to translate relevant research outcomes from the Center for Produce Safety at the University of California-Davis for application in the Australasian fresh produce industries.
“The 2006 spinach crisis in the US and the European sprout problems of 2011 demonstrate the importance of our industry working together from paddock to plate to ensure continued fresh food safety in Australia and New Zealand,” said Associate Professor Robyn McConchie, head of the Plant and Food Sciences department of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Sydney.
“We anticipate developing a research model where we will be utilising existing research and information, as well as bringing together international experts, representatives of government, industry associations, growers, packers and processers, wholesalers and retailers, food safety trainers and practitioners, all with a focus on filling the knowledge gaps on produce food safety in Australia and New Zealand, and protecting and enhancing food quality and safety in fresh produce,” said Associate Professor McConchie.
A Food Safety Taskforce initiated by PMA Australia-New Zealand and comprising of representatives from all sectors of the supply chain, has also been appointed to assist in the project and work collaboratively with industry to facilitate communication and outreach.
“An outbreak of food-borne illness can be devastating, not only for those directly affected, but for an entire industry. As an industry, we have a responsibility to live up to the trust placed in us every day by consumers, by ensuring the safety and traceability of our fresh produce” said Fabian Carniel, Chair of the Food Safety Taskforce and Joint CEO of Mulgowie Farms.
“On behalf of its members and the broader industry, PMA Australia-New Zealand is taking an active role in enhancing the safety and security of produce across the Australia-New Zealand region, and the taskforce is confident that this website will prove to be an extremely useful resource for the industry” he added.
For further information on the Fresh Produce Safety – Australia & New Zealand website, please visit www.freshproducesafety-anz.com.
-ENDS-
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About University of Sydney, Faculty of Agriculture & Environment
The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment explores new frontiers in food production, carbon cycling and agricultural sustainability. The critical issues facing the world today shape our research and teaching, towards a focus on the sustainability of the system in the face of environmental challenges and a burgeoning global population. The University of Sydney has a strong background in research and the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment is positioned to provide in-house produce safety research and outreach to the Australian fresh produce industry. The University of Sydney, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment is launching a new Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness degree, commencing in 2014. For more information, please visit www.sydney.edu.au/agriculture.
About PMA Australia-New Zealand
Founded in 2009, PMA Australia -New Zealand (PMA A-NZ) is the first regional affiliate of the Produce Marketing Association, the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. Its community includes seed companies, growers, packers, processors, shippers, importers and exporters, wholesalers and retailers, foodservice, government agencies, associated suppliers to the industry, and many more. By working across the whole value chain in Australia and New Zealand, PMA A-NZ strives to assist businesses to increase their sales of fresh and safe produce to regional and global consumers and to develop their internal business capabilities through motivated and skilled employees. For more information, please visit www.pma-anz.com.
Press Contacts:
Erin Hart, PMA Australia-New Zealand, tel. +61 3 8844 5536, email e.hart@pma-anz.com
Erika Watson, U Syd. Faculty of Agriculture & Environment, tel. +61 2 8627 1005, email erika.watson@sydney.edu.au

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