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Research Highlights

On-farm Food Safety Research Helps Louisiana
Growers Comply with New Law

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is one of the sweeping reforms of U.S. food safety laws in more than 70 years. The main focus of the act is to reduce foodborne hazards by preventing microbial contamination during production, processing, handling and transportation of food rather than relying on correction after problems occur. Under FSMA, “FDA will have a legislative mandate to require comprehensive, science-based preventive controls across the food supply.”

FSMA requires new standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding produce for human consumption, also known as the “Produce Safety Rule.” The rule identifies five routes of on-farm microbial contamination – agricultural water, domesticated and wild animals, workers, biological soil amendments, and equipment and tools – and sets requirements to prevent or reduce the introduction of pathogens.

The potential introduction of foodborne pathogens during growing, harvesting and packing necessitates that producers understand the on-farm sources of harmful microorganisms and apply appropriate practices to reduce the risk of contamination. FSMA requires fresh-produce growers to follow practices that minimizes the level of harmful microorganisms before they harvest or market their produce. The rule states the waiting period between irrigation and harvesting or during storage depends upon the microbial quality of irrigation water and the survival of generic E. coli on the edible portion of the crops. [RIGHT: Cantaloupe irrigated with UV-C light treated irrigation water. Photo by Achyut Adhikari]

One of the long-term goals of the LSU AgCenter is to strengthen the productivity, profitability and competitiveness of Louisiana’s agriculture. Scientists focus on applied research that has immediate impact on the quality, safety and economic viability of Louisiana-based fresh produce. This is achieved by collaboration among scientists from several disciplines that bring expertise to address critical food safety issues along the production chain.

Researcher Studies Food Safety in
Greenhouse Tomato Production

BATON ROUGE, La. – 20 March 2014 -Commercial greenhouse vegetable production is becoming increasingly popular in Louisiana. While there are benefits to local production, even small-scale growers must learn how to prevent and manage diseases.

LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Melanie Lewis Ivey is studying how diseases enter greenhouses and cost-effective prevention methods. The project is a collaboration with Ohio State University and is funded by a $2 million specialty grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The AgCenter’s part is $130,000.

Ivey said the goal is to identify the entry points of high-risk pathogens and develop best practices for safeguarding greenhouse crops from bacteria, viruses and viroids. She also hopes to find out if plant pathogens and human pathogens enter systems at similar points.

revised: 24-Feb-2022 10:42