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Critical role of practical research and extension in a systems approach to microbial food safety for the produce supply-chain
T. V. SUSLOW (1), T. Suslow (1). (1) Univ of California, Davis, CA, U.S.A.

Since the dissemination of the first produce industry-guidance using the term Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs; 1996), the basic tenants of a systems approach to microbial food safety have remained constant. The core-recognized risks include; water – workers – soil amendments – domestic animals and wildlife – equipment and facility sanitation. Since then, detailed characterization of these and related hazards have been elucidated by basic and applied research. However, knowledge gaps in risk assessment and the specific efficacy of presumptive preventive controls, across diverse agro-ecoregions, commodities, and practices, remain barriers to effective design of best practice guidance and standards. Applied research and extension training have played a critical role for over 18 years in defining the voluntary producer or buyer-mandated GAPs requirements, preharvest to postharvest, which span all facets of the fresh produce supply-chain. Model and field-based research collectively demonstrate frequent interconnectivity of hazards along the supply-chain. In doing so, the necessity of taking a systems approach to minimizing risks and establishing multiple hurdles to illness or outbreaks has been well established. This presentation will provide case examples of real-world challenges preventing contamination and the downstream consequences of system failures that form the informational foundation for l<i>essons learned</i> that help guide our evolving risk management awareness.

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