The Produce Safety Task Force was formed at the end of 2006 after outbreaks of E. coli in California spinach impacted New Jersey growers. With the creation of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, the Task Force’s focus has become more about making sure that those farmers and food handlers covered by FSMA can comply with the law. The Task Force continues to seek ways to assist growers of fruits and vegetables in the state as they enact new food-safety protocols. The emphasis is on ensuring safe produce in the marketplace 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 contained in the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to determine their impact on New Jersey produce growers and to communicate the importance of complying with FSMA to growers.
- Work with the retail food industry to anticipate their requirements for food safety for the coming five-year period.
- 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, Christian Kleingunther (NJDA); Jeff Beach (NJDA); Daniel Wunderlich (NJDA); Richard Norz (State Board of Agriculture); Peter Furey (NJ Farm Bureau); Linda Doherty (NJ Food Council); Brian Schilling (Rutgers Food Policy Institute); Wesley Kline (Cumberland County Extension Agent); Meredith Melendez (Mercer County Extension Agent); Rick Van Vranken (Atlantic County Extension Agent); Dan Graiff (vegetables); Dennis Doyle (Atlantic Blueberry Company); Loel Muetter, (NJ Department of Health and Senior Services); Alan Talarsky (NJ Department of Health and Senior Services); Donald Schaffner, (Rutgers University).