Researchers use survey to assess food security challenges of blueberry harvest

Researchers led by Jinru Chen, Ph.D., University of Georgia, use an anonymous survey to gain insight into current cleaning and sanitation methods used on blueberry harvest containers and harvesting machines.

Based on the survey results and with the help of a blueberry industry advisory board, the researchers hope to identify cleaning and disinfection practices that can be further validated in the field and in the laboratory.

Chen said the results of the project, “Assessing the Food Security Challenges of Harvesting Blueberries,” should have widespread applications. “Harvesting containers and harvesting machines are not only used to harvest blueberries, but other fresh produce as well,” she said. “The information will help growers and packers improve their cleaning and sanitation practices and produce safe fruit for the fresh market. ”

Chen is joined by Renee Holland, a UGA region extension officer for commercial blueberries, and Wei Qiang Yang, Ph.D., a region berry extension officer at Oregon State University. “Wei and Renee are both blueberry extension officers and have close contact with blueberry growers,” Chen said. “They have established a strong trust with the local producers and their roles in the project are extremely important. ”

Researchers are currently in the midst of the in-person and online investigation. The survey asks growers about their production scales, harvesting methods, and cleaning and sanitation practices for harvest containers and mechanical harvesters.

After completing the survey and receiving feedback from the advisory board, the researchers plan to emulate leading laboratory cleaning and sanitation practices and determine the effectiveness of the practices in removing microbial build-up and biofilm on them. materials used to make harvest containers and mechanical harvesters.

About CPS
This research is funded in part by the Center for Produce Safety, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit. CPA is a collaborative partnership that leverages the combined expertise of industry, government, and the scientific and academic communities to focus on the research needed to continuously improve food security. This level of collaboration allows CPA to fill knowledge gaps in food safety and respond to both research priorities and immediate industry needs.

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