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.
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.
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
Safe food handling information and food safety alerts:
- NYS Department of Health’s Food Handling, Preparation and Storage Program
- CDC food safety website – Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC)
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.