Ranking Food Safety Priorities of the Fresh Produce Industry in the United States

Bashiru C. Bakin, Chloe J. McGovern, Meredith Melendez, Christina Kessler, Faith Critzer, Channah M. Rock, Robert L. Buchanan, Donald W. Schaffner, Michelle D. Danyluk, Barbara B. Kowalcyk, Kara M. Morgan, Laura K. Strawn, Alexis M. Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A broad understanding of community member food safety priorities in the fresh produce supply chain does not currently exist. This information is essential to improve food safety knowledge and practices effectively and efficiently throughout the fresh produce industry; therefore, the goal of this study was to identify and rank community produce safety priorities in the United States. Survey questions were designed and approved by food safety experts for participants to rank 24 fresh produce safety priorities. The anonymous survey was distributed online via Qualtrics™ to fresh produce community members from November 2020 to May 2021. A score was calculated for each priority by summing weighted ranking scores across responses. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were used to determine frequencies and distribution of response and identify factors (e.g., role in produce safety, size/location of organization/operation) that influenced rankings. A total of 281 respondents represented fourteen different roles in the fresh produce industry, with most identified as growers (39.5%). Produce operations were distributed across the U.S. and annual produce sales ranged from below $25,000 to over $5,000,000. Health and hygiene, training, postharvest sanitation, traceability, and harvest sanitation were ranked as the top five food safety priorities. These findings provide insight into community member priorities in fresh produce safety and can be used to inform intervention efforts, ranging from specialized training for produce growers and packers, industry-driven research projects, and gaps in risk communication strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100167
JournalJournal of food protection
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology


  • Adjacent land
  • Agricultural water
  • Health and hygiene
  • Sanitation
  • Traceability


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