eNewsletter, February-March 2018
May 2017 | WCFS & WIFSS Newsletter
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Welcome to our first newsletter in a bimonthly format. The WCFS-WIFSS joint newsletter has been published continuously since 2010. Let us know if you have any feedback or questions. Please have a look at where we've been and upcoming events in food safety and security. We hope you find it informative. Stop by our websites at either or Thank you for your continued support!

University of California, Davis


California Leafy Greens Research Board Meeting | March 27, 2018, Pismo Beach, CA &
UC Cooperative Extension Irrigation and Nutrient Management Meeting
 | February 13, 2018, Salinas, CA
Anne-laure and Laura Murphy (UCCE Monterey) collecting a Moore swab from a Salinas reservoir
Anne-laure Moyne, research scientist with WCFS in the Harris Lab, was invited to present her research “Microbial food safety risks of reusing tail water for production of leafy greens” at the annual California Leafy greens Research Board  and UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Irrigation and Nutrient meetings.  The research has been funded over the past 3 years by WCFS, the Center for Produce Safety, California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the California Leafy Greens Research Program. The research was a collaboration between WCFS and water and leafy greens experts in Monterey County, Cooperative Extension Advisors Michael Cahn (PI) and Steve Koike. Tail water reservoirs throughout the Salinas Valley were microbiologically and chemically characterized in the first year of the study and the survival of Salmonella and shiga-toxin producing E. coli O157:H7 was evaluated in representative water samples alone and applied to soil and growing lettuce. Research projects funded by the California Leafy Green Research Program were presented during the meeting that was attended by the California leafy greens industry and research scientist from the USDA and Universities  Plant breeding and genetics, insect and disease management, cultural practices and weed management and post harvest and food safety were the four research area covered during the meeting. More than 100 people attended.

The UCCE meeting focused on regulation of water discharge from agriculture operation (Ag order) and provided more than 100 growers with new or improved agricultural practice to prevent release of pollutants such as pesticides, fertilizers and salts in surface and ground water.  

2nd Annual Meeting of the Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety | March 27-28, 2018, Davis, CA
The 2nd Annual Meeting of the Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety (WRCEFS) was held at the UC Davis Conference Center. Erin DiCaprio and Linda Harris coordinated a dynamic 2-day program with Oregon State University’s Robert McGorrin (PI, WRCEFS) and Jovana Kovacevic (Assistant Professor, Food Safety Extension and Research). DiCaprio presented an update on research and training in the southwest sub-region. Over a dozen short reports on USDA NIFA Food Safety Outreach Competitive Grant Program (FSOP) activities and “add-on” projects across the western region were summarized. FSOP provides funding for food safety training and education for small and mid-sized producers and processors affected by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Michele Jay-Russell and Alda Pires were invited to co-present an update on soil amendments including current research with the organic farming community. Jay-Russell also gave a brief presentation on wildlife and co-management, which was followed by break-out groups to discuss these topics. Agricultural water was the focus on the second day. Harris finished the program with a tour of the UC Davis Food Science and Technology Department facilities.

2018 World Ag Expo | February 15, 2018, Tulare, CA
David Goldenberg discussed ways at the World Ag Expo to harden farms and food processing plants from intentional adulteration
WIFSS’ David Goldenberg, Food Safety & Security Training Coordinator, presented “Principles of Food Security Planning and Management” during the 2018 World Ag Expo, in Tulare.  David’s presentation, given on February 15 during the Women in Agriculture for Mentoring and Empowerment (WAME) Seminar, highlighted vulnerabilities in the food system due to Agroterrorism.  FBI Special Agent Sheldon Fung discussed threats and vulnerabilities, whereas Goldenberg reviewed recommendations on how the agriculture sector can forestall intentional adulteration of the food supply.  WIFSS has multiple projects and resources to train members of the agriculture community about the dangers of Agroterrorism and preventative measures.  WIFSS received a Specialty Crop Grant from the California Department of Food & Agriculture to assist companies in developing food defense plans as mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act.  WIFSS will soon be revising its Department of Homeland Security AWR-152 Principles of Preparedness for Agroterrorism and Food Systems’ Disasters.
Produce Safety Alliance Water Summit | February 27-28, 2018, Covington, KY and remote sites
Participants at WCFS listen to Melissa Partyka give an overview of an Ag Water related break-out session Photo: R Bond
The Produce Safety Alliance held a 2-day Water Summit on February 27-28 at the Radisson Hotel—Cincinnati Waterfront in Covington, KY.  Melissa Partyka (WCFS) attended in person, while Linda Harris and Erin DiCaprio hosted one of eight remote sites in the Western Region at WCFS in Davis on behalf of the Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety. The remote site was attended by 10 additional participants including Alda Pires, Ronny Bond, and members of the produce industry, UC Cooperative Extension and CDFA. In the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR), microbial quality standards were established for agricultural water that comes in contact with produce to reduce risks associated with agricultural water use. However, FDA received feedback from numerous stakeholders raising concerns that some of these standards may be too complex to understand and difficult to implement. In response to these concerns, FDA is considering how to address these issues by exploring ways to simplify the PSR standards related to agricultural water. The summit included informational presentations and break out discussions – comments from the group in Davis were fed back to a designated spokesperson in Ohio who was able to share them with the group. Melissa was able to give feedback on WCFS agricultural water projects that have been completed or currently underway.

More information on the summit including slides can be found here.  A recording of the summit may be found on this site, as well as a link for submitting comments. Read Samir Assar's FDA Voice blog post, "In Forum and On Farms, FDA Partners Work to Harvest Agreement on Water Issues."
Aquaculture America 2018 | February 19-22, 2018, Las Vegas, CAe.
Michele Jay-Russell participated in a full-day session on Aquaponics at the Aquaculture America 2018 annual conference. The conference was sponsored by the World Aquaculture Society (WAS) and their partners - the US Aquaculture Society, a chapter of WAS; the National Aquaculture Association; and the Aquaculture Suppliers Association.

For approximately two years, Jay-Russell and collaborators have been conducting research to assess potential zoonotic risks associated with aquaponic production of fish and fresh produce using a system designed at the Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture (CABA).This international conference provided an exciting opportunity to network with other researchers conducting aquaponics-related research around the world. Elizabeth Antaki-Zukoski, former WCFS postdoc with Jay-Russell, lead the study and is currently preparing to publish results from the experimental greenhouse trials using a lettuce-tilapia model. Co-PI and co-author, Esteban Soto, also attended the conference and presented in the Aquatic Animal Health and Diagnostics session.

Aquaponics is the integration of aquaculture and hydroponics that is now being used as an example of sustainable food production. Because fresh vegetables are usually consumed raw, there are concerns about microbial food safety and zoonotic risks from fish waste. The Produce Safety Rule preamble states that covered produce grown in aquaponic systems is subject to the same potential for contamination from agricultural water, biological soil amendments of animal origin, and animals as covered produce grown using non-aquaponic systems. The purpose of this study was to determine the survival, persistence, and transfer via root uptake of an attenuated Salmonella strain in a closed-loop recirculating aquaponic system (RAS) used for tilapia and butterhead lettuce production. Data from this study will fill knowledge gaps regarding how foodborne pathogens may persist and move through a RAS system, and promote development of good agriculture practices specific to aquaponics. 

The complete abstract text can be seen here.

Jay-Russell, M.T., E. Antaki-Zukoski, G. Mangalam, P. Aminabadi, F.A. Sebastião, B. Martínez López, F. Conte, O. Illanes, R.N. Fong, S. Taber, E. Soto. 2018. Evaluation of food safety risks in aquaponic production of vegetables and tilapia. Aquaculture America 2018, Las Vegas, NV, February 19-22.

AVMA Committee on Antimicrobials | February 6-7, 2018, Schaumburg, IL
Michele Jay-Russell attended the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Committee on Antimicrobials (CoA) in-person meeting held near the AVMA headquarters. The Committee was organized to serve as the primary resource to the AVMA on antimicrobial issues and provide oversight of all AVMA antimicrobial policies. The membership is made up of 9 voting seats and an at-large member including representatives from in avian, bovine, equine, fish, small animal, small ruminants, and swine practice, as well as food safety and veterinary public health. Michele Jay-Russel currently serves as the alternate representative for the American Association of Food Safety and Public Health Veterinarians (AAFSPHV), along with primary representative and CoA Vice-Chair, Joni Scheftel. Terry Lehenbauer, also from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, attended the meeting as the representative for the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP).

The CoA achieved a major milestone when the AVMA Board of Directors and House of Delegates voted unanimously to approve the AVMA “Policy On Stewardship Definition and Core Principles” developed by the committee. This policy is a consensus document and is very important first step in moving the profession forward from policy based on judicious usage guidance towards antimicrobial stewardship, which includes disease prevention and good management as a core principle. The stewardship policy and core principles are available on the AVMA website at: 
AAFSPHV representative Joni Scheftel (right) and alternate Michele Jay-Russell at the AVMA Committee on Antimicrobials meeting

Global Food Security Course, University of Pennsylvania | March 27, 2018, via Skype
Bennie Osburn was a guest lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania’s Anthropology 461-401 Course on Global Food Security.  He addressed the crowd of more than 100 students and faculty about veterinary medicine’s role in food safety, emphasizing the benefit of taking a One Health approach to solving the complex problem of thousands of illnesses and deaths caused each year by foodborne diseases. The audience gathered in a Penn Vet classroom to listen to the 50 minute lecture via Skype on March 27. 

The global food security course is an interdisciplinary course organized by the University of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinary Medicine and offered through the department of Anthropology. It focuses on the problems of food demand and consumption, production and supply in our increasingly globalized and urbanizing world. Special attention is paid to the intersections of current technologies of food production, current nutritional problems, environmental change and resource degradation, and the changing quality of human social life under globalization.
Management Course | February 28, 2018, Tallahassee, FL
It was a full house at the course in Tallahassee with more than 50 participants
MGT 448, All Hazards Planning for Animal, Agricultural, and Flood Related Disasters, held in Tallahassee on February 28th was the first cross-training effort for the Florida State Animal Response Team (SART) and Florida’s Integrated Rapid Response Team (FLIRRT).  Tracey Stevens, an instructor and trainer with WIFSS, presented the course, with the support of Summer Williams from FLIRRT and LeiAnna Tucker with SART.

This management level course provides emergency planners, and other essential community members, with the background information needed to participate in the development of supplemental animal, agricultural, and food (AAF) related disaster response plans that could be included within the existing EOP for an operational area (OA).

Dairy Expo Planning Meeting | February 22, 2018, Sacramento, CA
WIFSS staff members Dr. Michael Payne and David Goldenberg are working with the FBI in designing and running a dairy table top exercise to provide awareness of vulnerabilities in the chain of production from cow to consumer.  The proposed day long exercise will take place in the Sacramento area.  Attending the first planning meeting on February 22 in addition to Payne and Goldenberg were FBI Special Agents Sheldon Fung, Sunshine Adams, Todd Piantedosi, California State Veterinarian Annette Jones, and California Milk Advisory Board Director of Communications Jennifer Giambroni.
FSMA Produce Safety Rule Hybrid Training Meeting | February 21, 2018, Davis, CA
Alda Pires listens as Bennie Osburn welcomes the steering team members joining the meeting in-person. Erin Di Caprio, Heather Johnson and Greg Wlasiuk monitor participants joining the meeting online
The Specialty Crop Growers FSMA Produce Safety Rule Training Team kicked off the start of the 2 ½ year project to develop training materials for specialty crop growers in California. The team developing a guide for California's mid- and small- farm specialty crop growers to meet the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) held a webinar/in-person meeting on Feb 21.  Bennie Osburn, director for Outreach and Training at WIFSS, UC Cooperative Extension specialist Alda Pires, UCCE specialist Erin DiCaprio, Heather Johnson, instructional systems designer, and Ronald Bond, water quality researcher and field coordinator, along with Gregory Wlasiuk, E-learning curriculum designer from WIFSS, were present in Valley Hall to spearhead the hybrid meeting. Donna Pahl from the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA), gave overviews of PSA training and outreach materials, and Steve Patton, CDFA, gave an update on FSMA.
Produce Safety Alliance Courses | February-March, 2018, Central Valley, CA

Linda Harris was lead instructor for a PSA Grower Training Course for almond growers on February 8 in Modesto with Tim Birmingham from the Almond Board of California. She led the same course for pistachio growers in Visalia on February 9 with co-instructors Michele Jay-Russell and Bwalya Lungu (Food Science Dept., UC Davis). The almond-specific course was repeated in Sacramento on March 2 and in Tulare on March 14. An  additional pistachio-specific course was held on March 29 with co-instructors Michele Jay-Russell and Michelle Danyluk from the University of Florida. Another pistachio course is scheduled in Tulare for April 14.

This course provides a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and co-management information, FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements, and details on how to develop a farm food safety plan. Information about agricultural water (production and post-harvest), worker hygiene and training, soil amendments, wildlife and land use, and post-harvest handling and sanitation is included. The PSA Grower Training Course is one way to satisfy the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirement that "At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration."


Microbial Challenge Testing for Foods | May 15-16, 2018, Chicago, IL
Linda Harris will again participate in the IAFP Microbial Challenge Testing workshop in May.  This popular course is based on the report of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) on conducting challenge studies. A detailed description of the course content is available here.


Wild Rodents and Food Safety

Rob Atwill, Xunde Li, and Michele Jay-Russell, in collaboration with Roger Baldwin of the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, the Yolo County UC Cooperative Extension, and Wildlife Services-USDA, found that wildlife trapped in proximity to hedgerows adjacent to tomato fields or walnut orchards did not have significantly higher prevalence of key food safety pathogens compared to wildlife trapped from tomato fields or walnut orchards with conventional field edges. Similar to earlier published work conducted on produce farms in central coastal California (Kilonzo et al., 2013) deer mice were the most commonly trapped wildlife in these agricultural systems. These wild rodents had a very low occurrence of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and non-O157 STEC. In contrast to this low prevalence of bacterial pathogens, around 24 to 25% of mostly deer mice from walnut orchards were shedding Cryptosporidium and Giardia, but the low levels of (oo)cysts in these positive fecal samples prevented DNA confirmation as to the human infectivity of these genotypes of protozoal parasites. Prior work (Kilonzo et al., 2017) determined that about half of the genotypes of Cryptosporidium from deer mice trapped on California produce farms appear to be human infective, but the Giardia being shed by deer mice does not appear to be human infective (Sellers et al., 2018).

Kilonzo C., X. Li, E.J. Vivas, M.T. Jay-Russell, K.L. Fernandez and E.R. Atwill.  2013.  Fecal shedding of zoonotic food-borne pathogens by wild rodents in a major agricultural region of the Central California Coast.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol 79(20): 6337-6344. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01503-13.
Kilonzo, C., X. Li, T.Vodoz, C.Xiao, J.A. Chase, M. T. Jay-Russell, E.J. Vivas, and E.R. Atwill. 2017. Quantitative Shedding of Multiple Genotypes of Cryptosporidium and Giardia by Deer Mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) in a Major Agricultural Region on the California Central Coast. J. Food Prot. 80 (5): 819-828.
Sellers, L.A., R.F.Long, M.T.Jay-Russell, X.Li, E.R.Atwill, R.M.Engeman, and R.A.Baldwin. 2018.  Impact of field-edge habitat on mammalian wildlife abundance, distribution, and vectored foodborne pathogens in adjacent crops.  Crop Protection 108 (June) pp. 1-11. 

Preharvest Food Safety in Bangkok

Rob Atwill visited Assistant Professor Saharuetai Jeamsripong, Department of Veterinary Public Health, at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok in early February to finalize work on a preharvest oyster food safety project and to help launch a new effort on raw produce food safety among small and large retail vendors in the greater Bangkok area. Dr. Jeamsripong, in collaboration with scientists at WIFSS and the WCFS, are rapidly expanding the food safety programs at their Department of Veterinary Public Health. Dr. Jeamsripong is a PhD graduate from the graduate Group in Epidemiology from UC Davis where she worked with Michele Jay and Rob Atwill on in-field mechanisms of bacterial contamination of lettuce with funding from FDA.

The native California shrub toyon, or Christmas berry, blooms with white flowers in a hedgerow planted behind Rachael Long and a tomato grower.
Sellers, L.A., R.F. Long, M.T. Jay-Russell, X. Li, E.R. Atwill, R.M. Engeman, and R.A. Baldwin. 2018.  Impact of field-edge habitat on mammalian wildlife abundance, distribution, and vectored foodborne pathogens in adjacent crops.  Crop Protection 108 (June) pp. 1-11.

  • Hedgerows were associated with greater wildlife abundance and diversity.
  • Hedgerows did not generally yield greater wildlife incursion into field interiors.
  • Hedgerows did not have any noticeable impact on foodborne pathogen prevalence.
  • In tested crop systems, hedgerows did not increase human-wildlife conflict concerns.
Read more about the study at the UCCE San Joaquin blog.
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