Food safety conference slated July 16 in College Station

COLLEGE STATION —  An effort to determine why bacteria resists removal from the surface of fresh produce, causing possible outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, will bring stakeholders together to discuss possible solutions, according to Texas A&M AgriLife organizers.

Irrigation water quality will be among the topics to be discussed at the GAPs Food Safety Conference July 16 in College Station. (AgriLife Extension photo by Dr. Juan Anciso)

Irrigation water quality will be among the topics to be discussed at the GAPs Food Safety Conference July 16 in College Station. (AgriLife Extension photo by Dr. Juan Anciso)

The Good Agricultural Practices Food Safety Conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. July 16 at The Science Park, 2501 Earl Rudder Freeway South, Suite 700.

“This conference is open to a wide variety of people interested in the prevention of microbial outbreaks in produce due to E. coli and salmonella,” said Dr. Juan Anciso, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service fruit and vegetable specialist in Weslaco.

This would include fruit and vegetable growers, food safety managers for on-farm operations and packing houses, academia, importers and others, he said.

“This conference is important because it will share with those in the industry the results of on-farm food safety projects to improve food safety practices at the farm level,” Anciso said. “These are called Good Agricultural Practices and can go a long way in preventing E. coli and salmonella outbreaks in produce.”

The conference is part of an overall grant effort by Texas A&M AgriLife and an organization in Mexico, the Centro de Investigacion en Alimentacion y Desarrollo, that addresses food safety questions in fruits and vegetables, Anciso said.

The institute in Mexico, also known as CIAD, is one of 27 public centers that conduct scientific research to address public health issues. It is located in Hermosillo, Sonora.

The grant is titled “Role of surface-related factors on contamination and survival of pathogens in fresh produce grown in Texas and Mexico.” It is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The grant was awarded in 2010 and has helped researchers study the reasons why harmful bacteria resist removal from the surface of fresh produce,” he said.

The conference will help share research results with industry, as well as inviting them to the Texas Center for Food Safety, where much of the research is conducted, Anciso said.

The Texas A&M Center for Food Safety at Texas A&M University in College Station is a collaborative effort by Texas A&M AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and Texas A&M University to expand food safety activities across the campus, Anciso said. It also strives to enhance external visibility and public knowledge of the university’s food safety activities.

Topics and speakers at the conference will include:

—  Overview of Texas A&M Center for Food Safety, Dr. Gary Acuff, director of the center.

—  Overview of food safety issues on produce and the purpose of the conference, Dr.  Elsa Murano, interim director of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, College Station.

—  Surface-related factors of produce that contribute to the contamination of harmful micro-organisms, Dr. Alejandro Castillo and Mariana Villarreal, AgriLife Research, College Station.

—  Effects of oils on harmful micro-organisms, Dr. Matthew Taylor and Noo Song, AgriLife Research, College Station.

—  Irrigation water quality concerns because of the Food Safety Modernization Act, Anciso.

—  Tour of the Texas a&M Food Safety Center, Acuff.

For more information, contact Anciso at 956-968-5581 or email .

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