Don’t let CPS research intimidate you
This story stars a frog, the Pacific tree frog. While it’s not a fairy tale, Susanne Klose still needed a happy ending — so she turned to Center for Produce Safety.
Our story’s frogs intruded on lettuce fields and ended up in bags of salad mixes. That created a food-safety hazard, a disconcerting discovery for consumers and an economic loss for fresh produce companies.
Klose is senior director of research and development at Church Brothers Farms and a member of CPS’s Technical Committee. The company is a bronze level contributor to CPS. She was working for a different produce company at the time. She and her team tried various ways to exclude amphibians from lettuce fields, with little success. Klose turned to CPS for help. CPS-funded research completed by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Paul C. Davidson demonstrated that fencing with a horizontal lip is an effective obstacle; sticky-footed frogs cannot climb over the lip.
Using that research, Klose ranked ranches to receive a targeted investment in mitigation measures. Lipped fencing was installed at high-risk locations, significantly reducing the incidence of frogs in their salads.
This is just one example, said Klose, of the practical resources available from CPS to every fresh produce company, small and large.
Klose recommended accessing the plethora of CPS resources — certainly the website, but also attending CPS’s annual Research Symposium, tapping into the key learnings published after each event, and listening to CPS webinars or recordings. “I bring key learnings back to my company,” she said.
Start with CPS research findings, said Klose, then translate the science into business solutions that fit your company’s unique circumstances.
Although some safety considerations are overarching, others are very specific to a region, a commodity, even a ranch, she noted.
Klose appreciates the demographic and geographic diversity of the CPS community, including volunteer leaders and researchers from around the world. She noted CPS researchers come at research from a broad range of fields — Davidson, for example, is a biologist. Other CPS-funded researchers include food scientists, parasitologists, engineers, even mathematicians.
Together, said Klose, this wealth of expertise results in fresh produce food-safety solutions that work for our industry.
Reprinted with permission from Center for Produce Safety’s 2021 annual report, released in August 2022. For more information about CPS and its work to fund science, find solutions and fuel change in fresh produce food safety, visit www.CenterforProduceSafety.org.