Researchers are seeking a better understanding of current cleaning and sanitation methods used on blueberry harvest containers and machine harvesters. They are working via an anonymous survey. Based on the survey results and with the help of a blueberry industry advisory board, the researchers want to identify promising cleaning and sanitizing practices to further validate in the field and in a laboratory setting.
Principal investigator Jinru Chen, Ph.D., with the University of Georgia, said the results of the project, titled “Evaluating food safety challenges of blueberry harvesting”, should have widespread applications. Joining Chen as co-PIs are Renee Holland, a UGA area extension agent for commercial blueberries, and Wei Qiang Yang, Ph.D., a district berry extension agent with Oregon State University. Chen has collaborated with the two on different projects since 2014.
The researchers are in the middle of the in-person and online survey that asks growers about their production scales, harvesting methods, and cleaning and sanitation practices for harvest containers and mechanical harvesters.