“By coming together, these leaders will advance food safety for controlled environment growers and for the fresh produce industry as a whole, which in turn will benefit consumers and public health,” says Bob Whitaker, Ph.D, Produce Marketing Association’s chief science and technology officer.

Leading Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) growers are collaborating to establish the first food safety group specifically for CEA produce brands. The group’s goal is to establish food safety standards for CEA produce to protect consumer health.

CEA growers including Brightfarms, AeroFarms, and Little Leaf Farms have formed the group as founding members, with others expected to join in the coming months. The group will officially begin with an inaugural meeting during the United Fresh co-located 2018 Expos taking place June 25-27 in Chicago, where members will begin to develop the coalition’s structure and food safety standards.

“The coalition’s exact structure will be developed when all of the member organizations meet at United Fresh,” coalition spokeswoman Amanda Ratner said. “The intent is to establish food safety standards.”

“The growing methods in our industry are different as compared to centralized and long-distance field-grown produce. This coalition provides an opportunity for all brands in the space to collaborate in an effort to further protect consumers by establishing standards and sharing insights,” BrightFarms CEO Paul Lightfoot said. “This is a critically important step in maintaining consumer confidence and supporting the growth of our industry.”

The growers’ efforts to establish these standards for food safety are supported by the United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association.

“By coming together, these leaders will advance food safety for controlled environment growers and for the fresh produce industry as a whole, which in turn will benefit consumers and public health,” says Bob Whitaker, Ph.D, Produce Marketing Association’s chief science and technology officer. “They ask good questions about how to ensure their particular practices produce safe products, and have demonstrated they are willing to learn from and share ideas on risk- and science-based food safety with their open agriculture counterparts.”

The CEA produce industry primarily includes brands using hydroponic, aeroponic, or aquaponic growing methods. The coalition invites all CEA produce organizations to join.

SOURCE: https://ohsonline.com/articles/2018/03/30/controlled-environment-agriculture-growers-form-food-safety-coalition.aspx