WCFS - Western Center for Food Safety

eNewsletter, March 2017




Northern California ASM Meeting

March 3-4, 2017
Pleasanton, CA

Elizabeth Antaki

What’s the risk of Salmonella in a recirculating aquaponics system? Elizabeth Antaki could give you the answer in just 3 minutes, using just one PowerPoint slide, which is what she did at the 34th Annual Northern California American Society for Microbiology (NCASM) meeting. This year’s meeting was titled, “Microbes v. Humans. Who’s in Control?”

During her talk, "Recirculating aquaponic systems and Salmonella: Is there a risk?" Antaki described the construction and experimental trials taking place in the fish pathology shelter at the Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture facility on the UC Davis campus.

Antaki , a post-doctoral scholar in Michele Jay-Russell’s lab with the Western Center for Food Safety (WCFS), is currently studying the food safety aspects of leafy greens grown in recirculating aquaponic systems (RAS), particularly with regards to pathogen retention and produce contamination.








Annual Walnut Production Meeting 

March 1, 2017
Sacramento-Solano-Yolo Counties, CA

Melissa Partyka Woodland

Melissa L. Partyka and Ronald F. Bond, WCFS researchers, are working on getting the word out about the FSMA agricultural water quality regulations likely to impact Yolo County growers. Melissa spoke at the annual walnut growers production meeting on March 1st at the University of California, Cooperative Extension Center in Woodland, CA. Partyka, a staff ecologist, and Bond, a water quality researcher, both with the Atwill Water and Foodborne Zoonotic Disease Laboratory within WCFS, will be heading up a half-day workshop for growers and industry representatives this summer. Stay tuned for dates and registration details! 





Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission Visit

March 1-3, 2017
WCFS-UC Davis Research Facilities

Melissa Partyka and Robert Atwill

The Western Center for Food Safety hosted the Commissioners of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission and Washington State University faculty on the UC Davis campus. The board was established to “promote and carry on research and administer specific industry service programs,… which will or may benefit the planting, production, harvesting, handling, processing or shipment of tree fruit of the State of Washington.” During the three day visit board members were given current WCFS research presentations and laboratory demonstrations. Rob Atwill and Melissa Partyka, presented current FSMA related water quality research happening in Washington State and Ronald Bond and Jennifer Chase led laboratory tours of Vet Med 3B. Ines Hanrahan, a WCFS collaborator, and project manager with the commission put the visit together. 














Water Quality Workshops for California Nut Growers


California tree nut growers will soon have to comply with new agriculture water testing requirements under the Produce Safety Rule in the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  UC Davis researchers and advisors are holding seminars to share information about the agricultural water requirements and proper water sampling methods in order to be in compliance with the regulations.

Melissa L. Partyka and Ronald F. Bond are engaging local growers on issues of food safety and helping to educate them on not only the regulations but on ways to improve their water quality. 

A full day workshop to be hosted by UC Cooperative Extension is planned for late June. Look for announcement of date, time, and location on the following websites: WCFS, UCANR, WIFSS.

Read the complete story here.














Produce Safety Alliance Train the Trainer Course

March 14, 2017
Sacramento, CA

The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Train the Trainer course was offered this month in Sacramento for individuals wishing to become trainers, able to offer the PSA standardized curriculum to train growers to meet the regulatory requirements in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. Michele Jay-Russell attended the course, and Linda Harris was an instructor. More information about the curriculum, as well as dates for future course offerings, is available here. 














New Disaster Preparedness Course from WIFSS

March 4, 2017
Santa Rosa, CA

AWR-328 Class

AWR 328 All Hazards Preparedness for Animals in Disasters got off the ground in Santa Rosa on March 4th, with a second delivery following in Superior, WI, on March 16. The awareness level course provides first responders with the tools to protect, respond to, and recover from consequences of disasters involving animals in rural communities. Tracey Stevens an animals in disaster instructor with WIFSS was instructor for the 8-hour, on-site portion of the course. Prior to attending the class in Sonoma, participants completed a 4-hour web-based learning session. The instructor-led portion consisted of table-top problem-solving activities that are based on the web-based content. Read full story here














Pipeline for Ag-based STEM careers

March 8, 2017
UC Davis


To meet our nation’s need for a safe and productive food system, WIFSS is proposing a way to build a pipeline for underrepresented groups to enter agriculture based Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers. Heather Johnson, an instructional systems designer with WIFSS, made a 10 minute pitch to representatives from the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Diversity, Campus Council on Community and Diversity, Office of Campus Community Relations, and the Staff Diversity Administrative Advisory Committee, for a Diversity and Inclusion (DI) Innovation Grant.

The proposal can provide opportunities to underrepresented groups to attend UC Davis, thereby meeting campus’s 2020 goals of diversity and inclusion. Additionally, this pathway offers underrepresented students a means of attaining higher education and lifelong success. We aim to accomplish this by gathering data and input from California high school agriculture teachers and hosting a working session on gaps and barriers for students in agricultural STEM fields. The information gathered from teachers will lead to the design of teacher Professional Development Workshops and a California One Health High School Student Conference.
















FDA Considering Simplifying Agricultural Water Standards

March 20, 2017

Water Sampling

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is exploring ways to simplify the microbial quality and testing requirements for agricultural water established by the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA’s) produce safety rule while still protecting public health. Agricultural water can be a major conduit of pathogens that can contaminate produce. That is why FSMA’s produce safety rule sets microbial quality standards for agricultural water, including irrigation water that comes into contact with produce.

However, the feedback that the FDA has received is that some of these standards, which include numerical criteria for pre-harvest microbial water quality, may be too complex to understand, translate, and implement. These factors can be important to achieving high rates of compliance. In response to these concerns, the FDA is considering how it might simplify the water standards.  FDA intends to work with stakeholders as these efforts related to the water standards proceed.

It is important that as FDA implements FSMA, the agency strikes an appropriate regulatory balance and decreases regulatory burdens whenever appropriate. FDA remains committed to protecting public health while implementing rules that are workable across the diversity of the food industry.