Center for Produce Safety CPS

Aug 23, 2021
Buyer, seller, grower groups join forces to fund CPS produce safety research

Investing in the food safety of fresh produce comes down to pride, potential, partnership and priorities, say the latest major contributors to Center for Produce Safety’s research program.

Contributing $250,000 each to Center for Produce Safety’s (CPS) latest research capital campaign are the fresh produce division of the global food-distribution giant Sysco, conventional and organic grower Tanimura & Antle, and grower groups California Fresh Fruit Association and Washington State Tree Fruit Association. All four organizations are repeat supporters of CPS.

Jon DeVaney

“Our orchardists take great pride in producing healthy food, and want to ensure that it remains safe for all consumers,” Jon DeVaney, president of Washington State Tree Fruit Association, said in a news release. “That requires developing and consistently applying food safety programs using the latest research and techniques. So even during difficult and unsettled times, our industry renewed its commitment to CPS, to ensure advancements in food safety continue.”

Conversely, Julie Olivarria, Sysco vice president of produce, cited two downside potentials of not investing in produce safety. “First and foremost, there is the human factor. Produce should make people healthier, not potentially make them sick. Second, there is the financial implication of food safety.  Advisories and recalls can have a profound impact on our bottom line – we cannot sell products that aren’t available, or that nobody wants because they’ve been implicated.”

Ian LeMay, California Fresh Fruit Association president, highlighted the relationship his industry has built with CPS to answer its produce safety questions. “I can’t emphasize enough the word ‘partnership’. That’s the way our industry looks at the relationship with CPS: it’s a partnership to improve and become a stronger, better industry.”

Center for Produce Safety launched its latest campaign publicly in January, after a quiet phase in 2020. To date, the center has raised nearly $7 million toward a $15 million goal to fund its work for the next five years.

Julie Olivarria

CPS finances produce-specific food safety research, then transfers research learnings to industry, government and other stakeholders through its extensive online research database, webinars and an annual Research Symposium, held virtually in 2020 and 2021.

Olivarria and Devaney noted the value of Center for Produce Safety’s unique structure, bringing together industry, government, academia and other stakeholders from the United States and around the world, powered by expert volunteers.

“Addressing the challenges of food safety and ensuring continued innovation requires collaboration across the industry. CPS brings together stakeholders and experts from across the industry to work toward continued improvement in produce safety,” said Olivarria.

DeVaney concurred, adding, “CPS allows our industry to pose critical questions to leading food safety experts, across the country and internationally. Stakeholder involvement in the research review process helps to ensure CPS projects result in relevant and actionable data that addresses producers’ greatest issues. This process is further enhanced by the involvement of [federal policymakers and regulators], whose decisions and priorities can be influenced by reliable data.”

LeMay pointed to Center for Produce Safety’s ability to move quickly to help industry address produce safety questions, even at the 2020 height of the pandemic. “As we were trying to triage COVID-19, I got the call about a salmonella recall. To be able to call CPS and other advisors connected with CPS was just an amazing support system. It was worth every penny.” CPS tapped research allies in Australia to conduct counter-seasonal field research for CFFA; results were delivered ahead of California’s 2021 growing season.

Scott Grabau

All of these leaders called on their produce industry counterparts to prioritize produce safety, and to support CPS.

“Food safety should rank top on everyone’s list of priorities, next to worker safety.  While we can only control what happens within our operations, we are affected by what happens in the industry as a whole,” said Scott Grabau, president and chief executive officer of Tanimura & Antle. “CPS allows us to have a broader reach, increasing the knowledge, awareness and impact of the industry beyond.”

Ian LeMay

LeMay agreed. “While historically many commodities may have felt safe from the issues of food safety, we collectively have a responsibility to the consumer, to sustain healthy and safe produce. We owe it to ourselves, our industry partners and our consumers to do all we can to support food safety. One of the best ways we can do that is to continue to support, and to expand our support for, Center for Produce Safety.

“CPS is the partner we all need to sustain us for the long haul,” he concluded.

Contributions to date

As of Aug. 18, the following companies have generously contributed to CPS’s new fundraising campaign. A current list of contributors can be viewed at

Diamond Level Supporters, $1,000,000+

Taylor Farms

Western Growers

Platinum Level Supporters, $500,000 – $999,999

Dole Fresh Vegetables/Dole Food Co.

Gold Level Supporters, $250,000 – $499,999

California Fresh Fruit Association


Tanimura & Antle

Washington State Tree Fruit Association

Silver Level Supporters, $100,000 – $249,999

Lipman Family Farms

California Cantaloupe Advisory Board/California Melon Research Board

JV Smith Companies

Promotora Agricola El Toro

Western Precooling

Grimmway Farms/Cal-Organic

McEntire Produce Inc.


Food Safety Net Services (FSNS)

The Giumarra Companies

GreenGate Fresh


Markon Cooperative Inc.

Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association

Mission Produce, Inc.


Pacific International Marketing

Robinson Fresh

Steinbeck Country Produce

The Produce News, media partner

Bronze-Plus Level Supporters, $50,000 to $99,999

The Oppenheimer Group

Amigo Farms

Bonduelle Fresh Americas

California Avocado Commission

DiMare Fresh



L&M Companies


New York Apple Association

Sunrise Growers Inc., A SunOpta Company

The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation

Food Safety News, media partner

Bronze Level Supporters, up to $49,999:

Church Brothers Farms

Coastline Family Farms Inc.

Little Bear Produce

Texas International Produce Association

Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Inc.

Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association

Diversified Restaurant Systems, Inc.

Florida Tomato Committee

Pasquinelli Produce Co.

IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group

Tyger Sales and Marketing LLC

Wish Farms

National Watermelon Association

Blue Book Services, Inc.

Primus Labs

Pacific Ag Pak Inc

Many industry organizations have supported CPS since it was founded in 2007. A complete list of contributors to CPS’s 2015 campaign can be viewed at

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit Center for Produce Safety (CPS) focuses exclusively on funding science, finding solutions and fueling change in fresh produce food safety. The center is a unique partnership, bringing together leaders from industry, government, and the scientific and academic communities. CPS funds credible, independent research worldwide, then transfers that knowledge and tools to industry and other stakeholders through an annual Research Symposium (virtual in 2021), its website, webinars, trade press guest columns and other outreach.

Since it was founded in 2007, Center for Produce Safety has invested more than $33 million to fund produce-specific safety research. For more information, visit

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