Food Supply Contamination

Federal initiatives encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables as a way to reduce risks for cancer, heart disease, obesity and other chronic diseases.

However, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) scientists note that with this increase in consumption of fresh produce an unexpected increase in food-borne illnesses has  occurred.

The CDC estimates that of the 76 million people who suffer from food-borne illnesses annually, 300,000 are hospitalized and approximately 5,000 people die.

Although the majority of food supply contamination events are unintentional, the potential for bioterrorism is a concern for the whole food system which includes the production, processing, transportation, retail industries and consumers.

Cut fruitsProducer/Grower Resources 

Good Agricultural Practices Program for Fruit and Vegetable Safety (GAPs) – national effort with a goal to reduce microbial risks in fruits and vegetables through a comprehensive extension and education program for growers and packers.

GAPs is based at Cornell University.

Robert B. Gravani, Ph.D., GAPs Program Director, 607-255-3262 or
Elizabeth A. Bihn, M.S., GAPs Program Coordinator, 315-787-2625 or

National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) created to enhance national agricultural security through quick detection of pests and pathogens.

Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic provides plant disease diagnostic services for anyone interested in plant diseases including Extension educators, growers and home gardeners.  Cornell University

Consumer Resources

Safe food handling information and food safety alerts:

Health related information addressing food and nutrition – U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Resources for Educators

The Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) offers two on-line courses for Extension professionals to help producers and consumers understand and address potential food safety issues:

  • Plant Biosecurity Management provides planning, preparedness and mitigation tools to fight intentional and unintentional plan biosecurity problems on U.S. farms, orchards, nurseries and vineyards.