eNewsletter, January-February 2020
May 2017 | WCFS & WIFSS Newsletter
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We've been hard at work these past few months making food safer and more secure. Please have a look at where we've been. We hope you find it informative. Stop by our websites at either or Thank you for your continued support!

University of California, Davis


Townhall Meeting | February 4, 2020 | Salinas, CA

Michele Jay-Russell, Anne-laure Moyne, and Sara Garcia participated in a Townhall Meeting at the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office on February 4. The meeting was organized by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), with the purpose to foster a discussion centric to produce safety research opportunities with stakeholders in the central coast. CDFA’s Natalie Krout-Greenberg, Director, Division of Inspection Services, provided opening remarks followed by presentations from the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) related to recent findings from investigations of E. coli O157:H7 linked to romaine lettuce grown in the western United States. Jay-Russell joined FDA’s Steven M. Musser, Deputy Center Director for Scientific Operations, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in presentations addressing “Opportunity for research partnership” with the Western Center for Food Safety. Channah Rock from University of Arizona finished the session with a presentation of their recent research partnership with FDA to conduct a longitudinal study to better understand the ecology of human pathogens in the environment in the Yuma agricultural region. Leafy green growers and others from the fresh produce and livestock industries participated in a valuable conversation surrounding research priorities and future directions.

40th Annual Eco Farm Conference | January 22-25, 2020 | Pacific Grove, CA

Sara Garcia and Heather Johnson of WIFSS managed a booth the 40th annual Eco Farm Conference at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, CA January 22-25, where they spoke with conference attendees about the food safety requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Produce Safety Rule that will be impacting farmers. Starting on January 1, 2020, the new Produce Safety Rule went into full effect and growers of covered crops, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, now need meet more rigorous standards for food safety on the farm. To aid farmers in meeting these new requirements, WIFSS received funding from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) to develop user-friendly, online training and on-farm resources that complement the required Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) grower training. The completed training is now available online: After completing the five online modules, growers will know about the basics of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, understand the requirements for water testing, know how to improve worker health and hygiene practices, and be introduced to record keeping requirements and tools to help prepare them for on-farm food safety inspections that are starting this year.

The Eco Farm Conference was attended by thousands of organic farmers from all across the United States and Canada. The WIFSS team even had an opportunity to meet with a farmer from Kenya who registered for the new online training and completed the course! This conference was an excellent opportunity to network with growers, non-profit groups that support small to mid-sized farms, and other groups also working on on-farm food safety. As WIFSS completes the CDFA SCBG project and is actively working to provide outreach to farmers and connect them with this new free online resource, they are looking for opportunities to attend PSA training events to tell growers about this very helpful new resource. Please contact WIFSS if you would like information on how we can come and support your food safety event!  
Shao Yuekun (Chris), David Goldenberg, Chris Brunner, Bennie Osburn, Jenny Chen, Xu Chen (Spoony), and Michael Luo, join students on Zoom from their homes in China during final-day presentations at the 2020 One Health Student Winter Conference

2020 Student One Health Winter Conference |
January 20 – February 7, 2020 | UC Davis


The NAU-UC Davis Education Conference on One Health for Food Safety and Security kicked off in the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Valley Hall on January 20.  The conference was scheduled to run from January 20 through February 7. Airline cancellations put in place as a result of the coronavirus outbreak made it necessary for the 36 participants from Nanjing Agricultural University to leave Davis one week ahead of schedule.  The conference was able to complete its full 3-week program due to the wonders of modern technology.  WIFSS’ One Health colleagues from Nanjing who were on site in Davis, with the help four interns, sprang into action videotaping the final week’s lectures and putting them online for the students to watch from their homes in China.  The students wrote summaries of the lectures and posted them on WeChat.  The final day of the conference occurred as scheduled with students presenting their team presentations through Zoom to a crew from WIFSS including conference team facilitators Bennie Osburn, David Goldenberg, Greg Wlasiuk, and Chris Brunner. Also, in attendance for final-day presentations were co-conference coordinators Jenny Chen, Michael Luo and Carol Wang, and interns Yang Wanying, Du Fanshu, Yu Xiaonan, Shao Yuekun, and Xu Chen.
The last group photo taken outside WIFSS at final farewell on Sunday, February 2


(From L to R): Zhirong Li, CDPH Food and Drug Laboratory Branch; Michele Jay-Russell, WCFS; Linda Guthertz, Lead Instructor; Stephanie Abromaitis, CDPH Foodborne & Waterborne Diseases Section, Microbial Diseases Laboratory Program

California Public Health Laboratory Director Training Program | February 12, 2020 | Richmond, CA

Michele Jay-Russell was invited to give a guest lecture to trainees in the California Public Health Laboratory Director and Public Health Microbiologist Postdoctoral/Fellowship Program at the California Department of Public Health. Her talk was entitled “Detection and Characterization of Campylobacter: Laboratory and Public Health Challenges.”
Linda J. Harris and Mary Lou Arpaia at an avocado ranch

Avocado Packers/Grower Visit | February 10-12th, 2020 | Oxnard & Riverside, CA

Linda J. Harris and Anne-laure Moyne joined Mary Lou Arpaia, a Cooperative Extension Specialist at UC Riverside, to tour three avocado packing facilities and one avocado ranch, with the goal of identifying future areas of collaboration and research with this industry.  

CFSAN Regulatory Research Lecture Series | February 5, 2020

Peiman Aminabadi was invited to present recent FDA-funded research in the Western Center for Food Safety as part of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) Regulatory Research Lecture Series. His webinar was entitled:
Evaluation of E. coli survival in conventional and organic vegetable fields amended with untreated BSAAOs ('raw manure').” Presentations were also given by the other FDA Centers of Excellence: Joint Institute for Food Safety and Nutrition (JIFSAN) at the University of Maryland, Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) at the Illinois Institute of Technology National Center for Natural Product Research (NCNPR) at the University of Mississippi.

CPS Wildlife Webinar - The Risk of Wildlife to Produce Safety: What do we know? | January 15, 2020

The Center for Produce Safety (CPS) hosted a webinar covering the risk of wildlife in fresh produce food safety, known management tools, and tools on the horizon. Michele Jay-Russell and Alan Franklin, Supervisory Research Biologist, and Project Leader, Wildlife Pathogens and Food Security & Safety Project, USDA/APHIS/WS National Wildlife Research Center, presented knowledge gained through CPS and other research projects. The recording and powerpoint presentations are available here. Also, read more in The Packer, “CPS web seminar focuses on wildlife and fresh produce safety.”

FSMA Produce Safety Rule Training
California Specialty Crop Growers
Online Training

The goal of this project is to support California specialty crop growers as they work to meet the new compliance standards of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule (PSR). WIFSS at UC Davis and UC ANR has developed educational, training, and resource materials that are now shared with growers directly or through extension specialists, farm advisors, or industry groups. The materials are now available online and in multiple languages (Spanish, Hmong, Mandarin, and English) to meet the diverse needs of California specialty crop growers.

One Health for Food Safety, Food Security, and Sustainable Food Production

Researchers at WIFSS and WCFS, located at the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, Sara Garcia, Bennie Osburn, and, Michele Jay-Russell, took steps forward in advancing food safety and security by publishing an article on applying the One Health approach to sustainable food production.
The article argues that, in order to achieve food security for the global population, preserve natural resources, and improve health through safeguarding food safety, there is a need for increased awareness among academics, producers, consumers, and government agencies on the concepts of One Health. In addition, there is an urgency to incorporate these concepts into the curriculum for scientific programs, including agricultural and medical, engineering, and humanities.

The goal is to establish networks that will work toward improving public health, food safety, and sustainable agriculture by establishing new perspectives on interactions among plants, animals, and humans and recognizing the threat of disasters and transboundary diseases impacting food security.

Read the full article here:

WIFSS Completes another Round of Training for the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium

WIFSS has been a member of the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium (RDPC) since 2008, and in 2019-2020 they completed another round of training courses focused on helping rural communities prepare for disasters that may impact animals, agriculture, and food. The two Department of Homeland Security (DHS) certified courses currently being delivered are AWR 328: All Hazards Preparedness for Animals in Disasters, and MGT 448: All Hazards Preparedness for Animal, Agriculture, and Food Related Disasters. To date, the WIFSS instructional team has completed a total of 25 deliveries of each course, and has trained over 1,300 participants from rural communities all across the country. Participants at the courses include emergency managers, first responders, public health agencies, agency employees from USDA and various state agriculture agencies, animal control agencies, and many other community members that may be involved in the event of a disaster that could impact animals, agriculture, or food. The courses are taught by a team of instructors that have experience in disaster response, emergency management, animal rescue, and agriculture. Our instructors are Tracey Stevens, Brian Whipple, Art Johnstone, and Michael Turner.
WIFSS has received another contract from RDPC to continue delivering these courses for another year. A complete listing of upcoming training events can be found at our website:

Research Article: Foodborne Pathogens in Birds in Agricultural Lands

This study, led by Nora Navarro-Gonzalez, former WCFS postdoctoral scholar in the Jay-Russell Laboratory, was highlighted as an article of significant interest in the February issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, and chosen for the cover photo. The work was supported by a research grant from the Center for Produce Safety. Findings indicated that the shedding dynamics of foodborne pathogens by wild birds on farmland are not well characterized. This yearlong study sampled wild birds for foodborne pathogens within agricultural lands in northern California. There was a low prevalence of Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli O157:H7, and non-O157 Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (prevalence, 0.34% to 0.50%)
identified in bird populations in this study. However, pathogens of public health importance (such as Salmonella Newport, E. coli O157:H7, and STEC O103 and O26) were identified in fecal samples, and two birds carried STEC on their feet or feathers. Identical pathogen strains were shared episodically among birds and between wild geese and free-range cattle. This result suggests a common source of contamination in the environment and potential transmission between species. These findings can be used to assess the risk posed by bird intrusions in produce fields and enhance policy decisions toward the co-management of food safety and farmland habitat conservation.

New Produce Food Safety Fact Sheet on Domesticated Animals and Wildlife

Michele Jay-Russell collaborated with colleagues at the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry, Sydney Institute of Agriculture, The University of Sydney to produce a Fact Sheet entitled The impact of animals on the risk of foodborne illness in fresh produce.” The fact sheet published by the Fresh Produce Safety Center of Australia and New Zealand addresses the issue of the impact of intensive animal production and animal intrusion on the risk of foodborne illness in fresh produce.

Chris Brunner to retire

Chris Brunner, who has been with the School of Veterinary Medicine since 1990, is retiring effective February 29, 2020.  Ms. Brunner served in the Dean’s office coordinating and assisting with many of the administrative activities under four deans. In 2012 she accepted a position at the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security where she assumed the role of “Communications and International Programs Coordinator.” During her tenure at WIFSS she has led the charge to revamp the WIFSS website, and initiated Twitter and Facebook accounts to inform others about important research, outreach, training and educational activities.  She has penned stories for WIFSS breaking news and is a contributing author on food news from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources where she contributed such stories as “Honey bee health as a key to wellbeing of the species.” During the last five years Ms. Brunner has played a major role in helping formulate and coordinate One Health for Food Safety and Animal Health educational conferences for more 400 undergraduate students from Nanjing Agricultural University, China and nearly 100 vocational faculty from six different provinces in China.  Her diligence in facilitating the programs and planning for field trip experiences has helped introduce undergraduate students and vocational faculty to knowledge of other disciplines associated with One Health and provides opportunities for exposure to relevant knowledge of agriculture, animal husbandry, resources and environment related to life sciences.  This information has served to provide a more comprehensive reference for the student candidates' future career goals, advanced degrees, or teaching strategies.  When undergraduate students complete the 3-week course they are committed to actively explore and find effective ways to solve problems through cooperation between different disciplines. The students are quick to acknowledge her nurturing role in their educational experience at UC Davis.  In addition, she continues to communicate with both students and vocational faculty through WeChat after their return to China.  Many students have gone on to advanced degree programs at universities throughout the world, and vocational faculty have modified their course deliveries to fit with the One Health concept.
Following her official retirement from the University she will come back to assist with the international program activities.  We at WIFSS are grateful for her untiring efforts in support of the mission of our organization.            
Garcia, S.N., B.I. Osburn, and M.T. Jay-Russell. 2020. One health for food safety, food security, and sustainable food production. Front. Sustain. Food Syst., 28 January 2020

Moussavi, M., J. C. Frelka, I.M. Hildebrant, B. P. Marks, and L. J. Harris. 2020. Thermal resistance of foodborne pathogens and Enterococcus faecium NRRL B-2354 on inoculated pistachios. J. Food Prot. In-press.

Moyne, A.-L., T. Blessington, T. R. Williams, S. T. Koike, M. D. Cahn, M. L. Marco, L. J. Harris. 2020. Conditions at the time of inoculation influence survival of attenuated Escherichia coli O157:H7 on field-inoculated lettuce. Food Microbiol. 85 2020 103274.

Navarro-Gonzalez, N., S. Wright, P. Aminabadi, A. Gwinn, T. V. Suslow, M. T. Jay-Russell. 2020. Carriage and subtypes of foodborne pathogens identified in wild birds residing near agricultural lands in California: a repeated cross-sectional study. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 86(3):e01678-19. .01678-19.

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