When industry and regulators come together, produce safety benefits
For Tammy Switucha, fresh produce food safety starts with a conversation — and having the right people at the table. Providing a safe space for such conversations is a key benefit of the Center for Produce Safety, she said.
Switucha is executive director of Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Food Safety and Consumer Protection Directorate, and a CPS board director.
“CPS offers a safe place for industry stakeholders and regulators to discuss risks associated with fresh produce,” Switucha said. “I’m impressed with CPS’s commitment to consumer safety with the research we fund and do.”
The center enables a two-way exchange with regulators, Switucha said. “We pass on our [regulatory] expectations and requirements. But we are also learning, so we can incorporate the latest research into our regulations and support for industry. We want to know whether research is actually working to reduce risk.”
Switucha encourages other regulators to engage with CPS. “Being at the table was very important to us in Canada because we import a lot of produce,” she said. “Having a say about what needs to happen for that trade to happen is very important.”
Switucha also appreciates having the full supply chain involved. “We have growers, packers, transporters, processors and I’m pleased to see more retailers joining CPS,” she said. This takes CPS conversations from the academic to real world.
“What stands out to me is how CPS turns the research we’ve invested in into something practical for industry,” she noted, pointing to CPS’s Annual Research Symposium, webinars and reports.
For Switucha, Center for Produce Safety’s greatest contribution is the relationships born from the open, honest conversations the center has enabled about the vital issue of fresh produce food safety.
“Everyone needs to be a part of the solution,” she said.
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.