May 12, 2023
Symposium to address industry questions on next food safety moves

The Center for Produce Safety’s 2023 Research Symposium plans to focus on making its research  learnings less complicated and relatable to the industry.

The event is scheduled for June 20-21 in Atlanta.

“Center for Produce Safety is about ‘fueling change’, our mission statement ends intentionally with those two words,” Joe Pezzini, CPS board chair and Taylor Farms’ senior director of agricultural operations, said in a news release. “Each year, the knowledge transfer needed to fuel that change begins with our Research Symposium.”

Day 1 of this year’s in-person symposium in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood will begin with a “Research 101” general session to teach even the least science-y attendees how to analyze and apply CPS research findings like a pro, according to the release. A panel of researchers and industry produce safety leaders will explain in lay terms how to evaluate CPS research reports, then decide what learnings might apply to real-world businesses.

That research codebreaking session will prepare attendees to evaluate the science reports that will follow over the event’s two days: 14 finished projects and 26 ongoing ones. The session will include findings from CPS’s latest rapid response research project on the potential food safety issues presented by flooding. CPS notes in the release that it can deploy rapid response research when breaking produce safety questions require fast answers outside of CPS’s annual research funding cycle.

Final research reports will be followed by breakout sessions to help attendees understand and apply what they’ve learned to their operations. Attendees will learn how to apply learnings involving other commodities or regions, and how to benefit from research findings even when additional study may be needed.

“While the science we’ll hear is groundbreaking, the symposium’s value doesn’t end with researchers’ reports,” Pezzini said in the release. “These breakout discussions will deliver real ROI we can take home to our businesses.”

Day 2 will open with an exploratory panel discussion on “Using the lessons from our past to create a better produce safety future.” Panelists will include food safety attorney Bill Marler, SmartWash Solutions’ Jim Brennan and McEntire Produce’s Alexandra Belias.

“Get ready for an honest, unvarnished discussion. Fresh produce food safety has such potential, and the silos are coming down,” Pezzini said in the release. “We all have a role to play.”

Each day will conclude with a wrap-up of the day’s learnings. Day 1 will also feature a welcoming reception where attendees can meet and talk more with CPS-funded researchers and their student research assistants, who soon will be looking to begin their careers.

“The symposium’s networking is as powerful as the education,” Pezzini said in the release. “From the executive suite to the food safety manager, from growers to processors, this event is designed to meet your needs and help you grow your produce safety capabilities.”

For more information about and to register for this year’s event, visit CPS’s website.

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