For Patricio this is not just lip service, it’s something he is putting into practice at home.  Since the 1990s, the California melon industry has utilized industry assessment dollars to fund a great deal of food safety research.  Most recently, the California Cantaloupe Board completed a couple of important research projects by renowned food safety scientist Dr. Trevor Suslow of the University of California, Davis.  Suslow conducted a series of tests both in commercial melon field settings as well as in greenhouses to analyze how pathogens, particularly Salmonella, could potentially find their way into packed melons.

“What Dr. Suslow learned is very good news,” said Patricio. “The research confirms there is no internalization of pathogens into cantaloupes via root uptake and, in fact, it appears that cantaloupes may have some natural capacity to ward off salmonella systemically.”

Patricio explained that Dr. Suslow is now further examining this phenomenon as part of a CPS-funded project that will look at other commodities besides melons.  Further, Patricio noted that other California melon industry-funded research by Suslow has provided additional findings about certain growing practices in California that minimize contamination of product in the field.

“Our intention now is to share this research with producers in other melon growing regions who have recently experienced issues with contaminated product,” said Patricio.  “We have learned the hard way that the best case scenario is for all melons to be safe.  This is what melon producers want and what is best for consumers of melons around the world.”

Patricio explains that Dr. Suslow’s research findings, as well as all of the other funded research projects of the California melon industry, are available and posted on the website of the California Melon Research Board at www.cmrb.org. He urges all melon producers to contact the California Melon Research Board to gain access to the research database and to see other food safety information concerning melons so it can be put to use on their own farms.  He also noted that the most recent U.S. Food and Drug Agency Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Melons is also available on the CMRB website.

Patricio believes the current U.S. food safety policy environment, new legislation and pending food safety regulations are even more reason for producers to band together.

“It is of the utmost importance that we have commodity-specific food safety guidelines that are applicable for all growing areas and that they really work to protect public health,” he said.  “That means more and greater collaboration.  I am very happy to be a part of the industry-wide CPS organization at this unique time.”

Patricio concluded by saying, “Those who know me understand I am an outspoken advocate on issues that are important to producers.  I hope people recognize they can come to me with their concerns and know I’ll listen and try to help. “

In the meantime, Patricio urges all members of the produce industry to support the Center for Produce Safety.