Outreach effort will target specific stakeholder communities, including raw agricultural commodity handlers (especially tomato packing house operators), fresh-cut processors, and retailers, as well as consumers.
A unique strength of this project is our close interaction with stakeholders. The PD frequently communicates with key industry players. A significant part of our proposed testing will be performed at our industry partners’ pilot plant and commercial processing facilities. These deep, interactive relationships with industry, and testing under realistic processing conditions, greatly facilitate development of technologies and science-based recommendations that are practical and adoptable. We will continue the goal of developing and effecting adoption of technology to reduce food-safety risk.
RAC (tomato) handler: Information generated will be used to set minimum safe use levels for sanitizers used in the washing and handling of tomatoes. The overall goal will be to deliver up-to-date scientific information targeted at the efficient use of sanitizers, in hopes of reducing environmental impact and reducing overall grower/packer costs, while still maintaining a safe and wholesome product.
Fresh-cut processors: Major outreach goals are to rapidly disseminate scientific information to these stakeholders to support development and implementation of science-based food safety practices, and to promote adoption of technologies whose effectiveness we have demonstrated via direct personal contact, on-site demonstrations, in addition to on-demand options (i.e., on-demand videos, training materials, archived seminars, extension publications) provided through the public website.
Retailers: Major outreach goals are to advance the understanding of retailers on the importance of temperature control for food safety of packaged fresh-cut leafy green vegetables; the benefit of installing glass doors to display cases on temperature control and the associated benefits on FDA Food Code compliance, food safety, and food quality; and the large reduction in operational energy costs, and the rapid return on investment.
Consumers: Consumer attitudes towards purchasing packaged fresh-cut leafy green vegetables from refrigerated display cases with glass plays a key role in produce sales, and thus is a key issue for retailers making decisions for doored or open cases. Therefore, consumer education will focus on developing marketing/educational materials for retailers that communicate to consumers the benefits of closed-door display cases.