The Produce Safety Task Force was formed at the end of 2006 after outbreaks of E. coli in California spinach impacted New Jersey growers. The Task Force's charge is to assist growers of fruits and vegetables in the state enact new food-safety protocols. The emphasis is on making small, family farms effective on food safety issues and ensure safe produce in the market for the consumer.
- Examine food-safety protocols existing on New Jersey farms to determine their effectiveness in preventing food-borne illnesses, and recommend ways to strengthen those measures.
- Examine current food-safety protocols used throughout the fresh produce industry in New Jersey to determine their compatibility with any potential new food-safety guidelines and protocols, be they from government or market initiatives.
- Review all food-safety proposals at the federal and state levels to determine their impact on New Jersey produce growers, and examine the EUREPGAP Protocols for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables to determine their appropriateness to New Jersey produce operations and the ability of the state’s growers to meet those standards.
- Work with federal authorities to influence food-safety proposals that could potentially stress small farmers without providing measurable food-safety benefits.
- Work with the retail food industry to anticipate their requirements for food safety for the coming five-year period.
- Develop the most effective ways to educate New Jersey produce growers about the continued necessity of food-safety protocols in their operations and the ways in which they can comply with potential new standards.
- Develop a public relations and advertising campaign, integrated with the state’s Jersey Fresh marketing campaign, to inform the public of increased food-safety practices used by New Jersey produce growers.
- Identify and seek funding through applicable grants to support food safety initiatives.
Task Force Leader: Secretary Douglas Fisher
Task Force Members: Al Murray, Larry Hardwick (NJDA); Jeff Beach (NJDA Policy Advisor); David Sheppard (NJ State Board of Agriculture); Peter Furey (NJ Farm Bureau); Linda Doherty (NJ Food Council); Deborah Dowdell (NJ Restaurant Association); Brian Schilling (Rutgers Food Policy Institute); Wesley Kline (Cumberland County Extension Agent); Rick Van Vranken (Atlantic County Extension Agent); Peter Bylone (Vineland Produce Auction); Dan Graiff (vegetables); Dennis Doyle (Atlantic Blueberry Company); Phil Neary (Sunny Valley International); Rich Ritota, (NJ Department of Health and Senior Services); Donald Schaffner, (Rutgers University).