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Produce safety future focus of supermarkets, farmers and consumers
Date:3/20/2012

termine whether a supplier's practices and procedures comply with a certain set of standards, such as GAPs."

Produce growers who need to verify GAP conformity through third-party compliance can select among several audit agencies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service, in association with state departments of agriculture, offers a voluntary audit program that growers can use to verify on-farm food-safety practices. Private companies also offer audit services, but their GAP standards and documentation requirements can vary from company to company.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law in early 2011 by President Obama, mandates the Food and Drug Administration to establish mandatory minimum standards, based on known safety risks, for produce growers to implement and document.

To help develop a relevant GAP training curriculum that meets the needs of Pennsylvania growers, Penn State researchers surveyed supermarkets that operate in the state to determine their food-safety policies and practices that affect local produce growers.

Pennsylvania consumers also were surveyed because they help drive demand for produce. The researchers found that consumers are highly concerned about the safety of the produce supply.

"Assessing American consumer perceptions regarding produce safety is particularly important, because those perceptions will allow actors within the supply chain to better meet consumer demand," Tobin said. "Using data collected from Pennsylvania consumers, our study documents how consumer demographics -- and their preferences for specific attributes in fresh produce, such as local, organic and inspected for food safety -- affect their produce-safety perceptions."

Such an analysis provides important information for those seeking to implement practices that reduce the risk of foodborne contamination, Tobin explained. A clearer understanding of consumer produce-safety pe
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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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