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Doctoral Dissertation Research: The Role Of Science In Food Safety: A Case Study Of The California Leafy Greens Industry

Investigators
Iles, Alastair; Baur, Patrick
Institutions
University of California - Berkeley
Start date
2014
End date
2016
Abstract

Under the supervision of prof. Alastair Iles, Ph.D. Student Patrick Baur will study the effectiveness of the 2011 food safety modernization act (FSMA) in assuring the safety of leafy greens and the deleterious effects on the ecosystem, that new food safety measures may be causing. In the wake of a deadly multi-state outbreak of E. coli in 2006 traced to spinach grown in the salinas valley, public and private sectors worked to strengthen controls over microbiological hazards in fresh produce, culminating in the 2011 food safety modernization act (FSMA) which extends food safety governance to a new frontier: the farm field. At the same time, primary responsibility for food safety is devolving from government onto heterogeneous, decentralized networks held together by complex regimes of standard-setting and compliance-certification. This shift poses problems for evaluating food safety reforms. Interviews with 100 practitioners (growers, produce handlers/processors, retail purchasers, federal state and county agencies, cooperative extension agents, private food safety certifiers, conservation and farmer advocacy activists) will be used to address the following research questions:

  1. How have leafy greens growing, processing, and distributing practices, and the labor entailed, changed since the 2006 e. Coli outbreak
  2. How have changes to practices related to food safety reform differed between organic as compared to conventional supply chains, and with respect to production volume?
  3. What role, if any, does scientific expertise or data play in these changes?
  4. To what extent and in what ways have food safety standards, in conjunction with the institutions of supply chain management, liability rules, and community norms, influenced these changes?

The results will be disseminated broadly through publication academic and applied journals such as California Agriculture, and presentations at both practitioner and academic conferences. Findings will also be shared for a broader audience on the co-pi's blog and through general media outlets. In addition, the findings will be shared with the California department of food and agriculture and the FDA.
Funding Source
United States Nat'l. Science Fndn.
Project source
View this project
Project number
1431490
Categories
Escherichia coli
Education and Training
Food Defense and Integrity
Parasites
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants