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Food Safety Research

United Fresh Produce Association is proud to support research that furthers the produce industry’s understanding and implementation of food safety best practices. 

Letter of Support Criteria for Researchers

United Fresh actively supports research relevant to fresh produce. This includes:

  • Advocating for research funding (USDA SCRI, block grants, etc.)
  • Donating to the Center for Produce Safety and serving as a technical reviewer
  • Serving as an industry relevance reviewer for the SCRI
  • Connecting United Fresh members with produce safety and quality researchers at United Fresh events and individually
  • Participating in advisory groups for funded research projects
  • Providing letters of support for research proposals, based on the criteria below

Criteria for a United Fresh letter of support for a research proposal:

  • In the spirit of true collaboration and stakeholder input, United Fresh invites active involvement with the research team prior to the request for a letter of support
  • Requests must be submitted at least 5 business days prior to the deadline for receipt of a letter
  • At a minimum, a 1-page abstract, including objectives, must be included so that United Fresh can evaluate the proposal
  • If a proposal is being resubmitted and United Fresh had previously offered a letter of support, the PIs should briefly describe how reviewer feedback was considered in the re-submission

Requests for letters of support can be sent to Dr. Jennifer McEntire, Senior VP of Food Safety and Technology, and Dr. Emily Griep, Manager, Food Safety.


For many years, a multi-institutional group of researchers has been funded by USDA to facilitate work on the “Quality and Safety of Fresh-cut Vegetables and Fruits”. Some within the United Fresh community may recognize this group as “S294”.  United Fresh is expanding access to S294 researchers from the Food Safety Council to the broader membership. 

Details on the objectives the group aims to address over 5 years is detailed on their webpage and summarized here:

Objective 1 – Evaluate methods of sampling and measuring flavor and nutrition of fresh-cut products to facilitate comparison to traditional shelf life factors.
Objective 2 – Develop new strategies to improve and maintain inherent fresh-cut product quality and nutrition.
Objective 3 – Improve understanding of physiological mechanisms that affect fresh-cut product quality
Objective 4 – Determine critical factors in controlled inoculation studies with human pathogens and surrogates that influence the outcome of quantitative microbial risk assessments.
Objective 5 – Development and validation of novel diagnostic methods to determine presence of human pathogens and chemical hazards associated with fresh and fresh-cut

Center for Produce Safety 

In 2017, the United Fresh Board of Directors committed to be a major contributor to the Center for Produce Safety fundraising campaign. Since that time, United Fresh has been an active contributor in the organization, with United’s President and CEO Tom Stenzel serving on the CPS Board of Directors and Dr. Jennifer McEntire, and more recently Dr. Emily Griep, serving on the Technical Committee.

In 2019, United Fresh’s Senior VP of Food Safety and Technology, Dr. Jennifer McEntire, joined colleagues from Western Growers and PMA to discuss the key learnings from the 2019 CPS Symposium. A recording of that presentation can be found here. A copy of presentation is available here. The associations are planning a similar event based on the 2020 CPS symposium.

Specialty Crop Research Initiative

The Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) is a USDA program that provides grants to research and extension that address key issues within the food industry. Additional information can be found on the USDA website. Please review the section on letters of support above before requesting a recommendation. 

IAFP Summary 

The 2019 annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection brought together roughly 3800 food safety professionals from academia (including students who presented hundreds of posters and technical sessions), government, and the breadth of the food industry. PMA and United Fresh have collaborated to offer a brief 2019 IAFP synopsis, highlighting the produce safety topics that were discussed in this diverse forum. 

For any questions on these resources or to report broken links, contact Katie McGowan, Manager, Food Safety Programs, via email at or by phone at (202) 303-3402.