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Food Safety Collaboration Announced to Study E. Coli

Brian German Fruits & Vegetables, Industry

Food Safety Collaboration

A new food safety collaboration was recently announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Partners include the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the University of California, Davis, Western Center for Food Safety. The group will be working with agricultural stakeholders from the Central Coast. The group will be working on a multi-year study to better understand pathogens that are responsible for foodborne illness outbreaks.

“The FDA is committed to providing innovative food safety approaches that build on past learnings and leverage the use of new information and data,” FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, Frank Yiannas said in a media release. “The launch of this longitudinal study follows a series of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in recent years linked to California’s leafy greens production regions, particularly three outbreaks that occurred in Fall 2019. Due to the recurring nature of outbreaks associated with leafy greens, the FDA developed a commodity-specific action plan to advance work in three areas: prevention, response, and addressing knowledge gaps.”

The latest food safety collaboration and subsequent study comes after a series of E. coli outbreaks originating from California lettuce production. FDA has been working to address the issue in recent years. A report was published earlier in the year with findings from a recent investigation related to outbreaks associated with romaine lettuce. FDA also recently released its Leafy Green STEC Action Plan to mitigate issues of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) contamination. The new study is being incorporated into the plan, as well as data coming from a similar study in Yuma, Arizona.

“In alignment with the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative, the findings from this longitudinal study will contribute new knowledge on how various environmental factors may influence bacterial persistence and distribution in the region, and how those factors may impact the contamination of leafy greens,” said Yiannas.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West