Seed World

Bust the Misconceptions Behind Food Safety


With agriculture’s job to feed the world, there’s an important part that comes with it: ensuring all food is safe and ready to eat on the consumer side. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen — sometimes outbreaks can happen and threaten food safety.

According to the USDA Economic Research Service, about 48 million episodes of foodborne illness and 3,000 deaths occur per year in the U.S. The most common pathogens cause an estimated annual burden of $14 billion to $36 billion — and product has been linked in 46% of foodborne illness outbreaks.

How are both the plant breeding sectors and agriculture sectors as a whole looking to dispel misconceptions around food safety? On Wednesday, Oct. 12, three panelists will join Seed Speaks to discuss the best practices and education around food safety both in the U.S. and Canada. Joining the panel are:

Joe Pezzini, chairman of the board of the Center for Produce Safety. Pezzini is currently the Senior Director of Ag Operations at Taylor Farms. He is responsible for their farming and harvesting operations, covering 42,000 crop acres for Mission Ranches, Seco Packing and Big Valley Labor. Pezzini is a native of Salinas and from a third-generation farming family. He grew up on their family artichoke farm with his brothers and sisters. He began his career with the Ocean Mist Farms group of companies in 1983 as a farm manager for Boutonnet Farms. Along with two partners Pezzini started Valley Pride Custom Harvesting in 1987. In 2001, he became vice president of Operations at Ocean Mist Farms where he was responsible for Cooling Operations, Food Safety, Quality Assurance and Human Resources. Pezzini became the COO in 2009 and was appointed to the CEO role in 2015. He served as CEO until June 2021. He has been a leading advocate for produce food safety and was instrumental in forming the California Leafy Greens Product Handler Marketing Agreement following the spinach crisis in 2006.

Clinton Monchuk, executive director of Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan. Clinton Monchuk grew up on a mixed dairy, beef and grain family farm outside of Lanigan, Saskatchewan. He received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture majoring in Agricultural Economics from the University of Saskatchewan and Masters of Business Administration in Agriculture from the University of Guelph. Clinton has enjoyed numerous roles across Canada, the United States and Mexico as a researcher, educator, manager, economist and director of trade policy. In 2016 Clinton accepted the role of executive director with Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan to promote farming and ranching to consumers. Clinton understands the value of increasing public trust in agriculture and actively promotes engagement between the agriculture industry and consumers. Clinton, Laura and their children Jackson and Katelyn, continue to be active partners on their family grain and layer farm in Saskatchewan and cattle ranch in Oklahoma.

Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill’s Office for Science and Society. Joe Schwarcz is Director of McGill University’s “Office for Science and Society” which has the mission of separating sense from nonsense. He is well known for his informative and entertaining public lectures on topics ranging from the chemistry of food to the connection between the body and the mind. Recently the Office has focused on trying to unravel the mysteries of COVID-19. In addition, he hosts “The Dr. Joe Show” on Montreal’s CJAD and has appeared hundreds of times on The Discovery Channel, CTV, CBC, TV Ontario and Global Television.

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