Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission

Research Reports

WTFRC internal program – food safety efforts (2018)

WTFRC Project #
YEAR 0/0
Organization Project #
Title:WTFRC internal program – food safety efforts
PI:Ines Hanrahan
Organization:WTFRC; 104 N 1st St., Suite 204; Yakima, WA 98901 509-669-0267 hanrahan@treefruitresearch.com


Jacqui Gordon (WSTFA), Laura Grunenfelder (formerly NHC), Kate Woods (NHC), Manoella Mendoza and Mackenzie Perrault (WTFRC), Rob Atwill, Missy Partyka, and Ronny Bond (UC Davis), Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli (CPS)



  1. Enhance collaboration in all areas of food safety (research, policy, FSMA implementation)
    1. Participate in development of training for industry
    2. Develop effective food safety outreach program



We participated in a number of on-going collaborative projects, funded by WTFRC, CPS, and FDA (see Table 1).

The WTFRC, under leadership of Ines Hanrahan, has served as a partner in research for the Center for Produce Safety (CPS). Tree fruit specific research priorities are developed and integrated into the annual CPS call for proposals, with the help of the NHC Food Safety Committee. During the proposal process Ines frequently serves as specialist to answer questions asked by scientists preparing to propose new research projects. Currently one project has been funded by CPS: ‘Control of Listeria monocytogenes on apple through spray manifold-applied antimicrobial intervention’ (Zhu/Suslow; $290,000). WTFRC has developed and executed a packing line survey for this project to determine the current industry practices related to spray manifold interventions. The team has also helped source fruit for the experiments. In 2017 Hanrahan has also participated in two site visits with CPS staff and board members: 1) Sept. 5th Vancouver, BC (Delaquis, Lu); 2) Sept. 7th Pullman, WA (Zhu lab).


Table 1: Summary of WTFRC collaborations in food safety research in 2017 and pending research for 2018 




Funding Source


Continuing/finishing in 2017

Listeria storage





Imp. Dryer





Water sampling





Food Safety Training





New in 2017

List. cleaning










Brush bed sanitation

Blakey et al.




Listeria monitoring

Kovacevic et al.




Pending for 2018

Packing sanitation

Critzer et al.




Rapid detection tools





Ozone in storage





Dump tank disinfection





collaborations may involve a WTFRC internal budget or utilize Dr. Hanrahan as a consultant/co-PI or collaborator   

 FSMA implementation: In order to best serve the needs for timely information distribution related to new laws pertaining to food safety, WTFRC staff (Hanrahan) lead an effort to coordinate all outreach activities by the various industry organizations. Specifically, NHC (policy), WSTFA (education) and WTFRC (research) efforts were combined and talking points coordinated to prevent further confusion, when learning how to implement the already complicated laws. The entire team (Grunenfelder (left in mid-2017), Woods, Gordon, and Hanrahan) has developed a uniform slide set to be used by each group member when addressing groups. This is a living document and has been updated numerous times. Further, the WSTFA has been holding numerous FSA sessions in 2017. WTFRC staff have assisted in meeting logistics and Hanrahan has served as expert to help field questions.

Hanrahan has also been obtaining FSMA certifications for PSA, FSPCA, and attended a train-the-trainer class. She is planning to apply to become a lead PSA trainer in 2018.

In March, WTFRC helped host a group of WSDA inspectors likely to take over responsibility for FSMA inspections to inform them of current industry practices and to field questions. A group of FDA officials visited Yakima in June 2017. Laura Grunenfelder (FDA) requested assistance in setting up field tours and informational sessions.

Development of industry training modules: In collaboration with WSTFA, NHC, and WSU, we repeated the existing workshop module “Putting Cleaning and Sanitation Programs into Practice” during two sessions with a total of 75 participants in 2017. These workshops provided a combination of classroom and hands-on activities and took place in collaborating packing facilities (Table 2). Dr. Hanrahan’s contributions to these workshops included: leading of general curriculum development, being a trainer, delivering talks, and helping with logistical support (including staff). Secondly, the same group, in collaboration with UC Davis held two workshops named: FSMA water quality testing. This module was also a repeat of a curriculum developed in 2016. It is the first of its kind in the nation to address practical considerations for water testing under FSMA. Workshops were designed to give participants theoretical background in combination with outdoor activities geared towards learning based on examples coupled with hands on training (Table 2). For 2018, we plan on delivering the workshop “Putting Cleaning and Sanitation Programs into Practice” in Spanish, and repeat the “Verification of cleaning and sanitation programs for tree fruit packinghouses: a hands-on environmental monitoring workshop”. In addition, WTFRC is collaborating with the WSFTA to develop a series of food safety videos. In 2017 we finished and the WSTFA distributed two videos: Hand Washing Training, and Cross Contamination vs. Cross Contact. These videos are available in both English and Spanish upon request from Jacqui Gordon (jacqui@wstfa.org). For a 2018 release, we have started a video on Good Agricultural Practices. WTFRC personnel contributed to content development, video shooting, voice over, and development of a training module to teach growers how to best use these materials when training their crews.

Table 2: WTFRC staff involvement in WSTFA sponsored food safety trainings in 2016

Name of Workshop/Training


2016 FSMA Water Quality Testing Workshop Wenatchee

May 11

2016 FSMA Water Quality Testing Workshop Yakima

May 9

Putting cleaning and sanitation programs into practice - Yakima

June 2

Putting cleaning and sanitation programs into practice - Wenatchee

May 31


Food Safety outreach: Ines served as the co-session manager for the food safety session during the WSTFA 113th Annual Meeting (HortShow) in December 2017.

Based on industry feedback, Dr. Hanrahan developed a series in collaboration with the Good Fruit Grower to answer frequently asked questions related to food safety. In 2017, a total of 5 pieces were published, and for 2018 another article is planned for the February 15th issue.

The WTFRC board, WTFRC manager Mike Willet, project manager Ines Hanrahan, guest Johnny Gebbers and WSU scientists Meijun Zhu and Girish Ganjyal went on a 2 day intensive study tour to California in March 2017. The overarching goals of the trip were: learn about the various activities related to food safety research at UC Davis and the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) and observe practical implications in a sprout facility.

Dr. Hanrahan also served for two years on the search committee for the WSU Food Safety Extension position. The committee had to perform the search twice, after the first attempt failed and reviewed over 60 applications in the process. To date, Dr. Faith Critzer has been hired and started employment at WSU in Prosser in January of 2018.

In addition, Ines has served as an adjunct faculty member for the WSU School of Food Science. She is currently serving as a committee member on two Ph.D. committees in the Food Science Department. Committee meetings were held in December, to approve the course of study and the thesis research topics. Both students will work in the general area of food safety on very industry relevant topics and are interested in a career in tree fruit upon graduation

Ewa Pietrysiak (former WTFRC intern, Girish Ganjyal serves as major advisor)

Title: Strategies to reduce microbial loads on apples in the packing process

Alice Shen (Meijun Zhu serves as major advisor)

Title: Understanding sanitizer and fruit surface interactions of fresh apples to reduce attachment and proliferation of Listeria monocytogenes on apple surfaces

Further, Dr. Hanrahan is serving on the stirring committee of the PNW Food Safety and Sanitation Conference, a regional conference with 450 attendees annually. Other outreach activities included: 2 posters at national/international meetings, and nine invited talks. The press covered WTFRC food safety activities in four Good Fruit Grower articles and three videos. A complete list of publications has been compiled below.


Publication record for food safety efforts 2017

Peer reviewed publications:

Sheng, L., Hanrahan, I., Sun, X., Taylor, M., Mendoza, M., Zhu, M. 2017. Survival of Listeria innocua on Fuji apples under commercial cold storage and ozone. Food Micribiology (accepted)

Sheng, L., Edwards, K., Tsai, H.-C, Hanrahan, I., Zhu, M. 2017. Fate of Listeria Monocytogenes on Fresh Apples under Different Storage Temperatures. Front. Microbiol. 8: 1396.

Other publications:

Jan. 20: Moving ahead with FSMA: A Good to Know (www.goodfruit.com/hanrahan-food-safety-questions-and-answers/)

Feb. 23: Woods: Food safety answers (http://www.goodfruit.com/woods-food-safety-answers/) (written by Kate Woods)

March 9: FSMA answers: preparing your facility (www.goodfruit.com/fsma-answers-preparing-your-facility/) (written by Laura Grunenfelder)

May 10: Food safety answers: What’s in your water? (http://www.goodfruit.com/food-safety-answers-whats-in-your-water-videos/) (written by Hanrahan, Woods, Partyka)

March 29: Where can I get training to be prepared for FSMA? (http://www.goodfruit.com/where-can-i-get-training-to-be-prepared-for-fsma/) (written by Jacqui Gordon)

Ines Hanrahan: WTFRC Board Study Tour 2017: Food Safety. Fruit Matters Tree Fruit News March 27, 2017 and www.treefruitresearch.com

Mendoza, M., Hanrahan, I., Gordon, J., Grunenfelder, L. Improving apple packinghouse food safety in Washington state with tailored workshop modules. ASHS Annual meeting in Hawaii (abstract)

Sheng, L., Hanrahan, I., Sun, S., Xue, Y., Taylor, M., Brosi, G., Zhu, M. Survival of Listeria innocua on Fuji apples under commercial cold storage with or without ozone gaseous. IAFP, St. Louis (poster)

Sheng, L., Edwards, K., Tsai, H., Bibil, S., Hanrahan, I., Zhu, M. Fate of Listeria monocytogenes on fresh apples under different storage temperatures. IAFP, St. Louis (poster)


Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Association: ‘Washington Tree Fruit Industry Response to the
Listeria monocytogenes Caramel Apple Outbreak’

North Carolina Tree Fruit: ‘Orchard Management for Food Safety’

Empire State Growers Expo: ‘On-Farm and Packinghouse Management to restrict foodborne Pathogen contamination’

Empire State Growers Expo:Orchard Management to restrict foodborne Pathogen Contamination & Proliferation’

NHC Food Safety Committee Annual Meeting: ‘Food safety Research: 2016 Update’

WSU Pullman, FS 220, guest lecturer: ‘Food Safety in the Tree Fruit Industry: Interventions and challenges’ (75 mins)

Hanrahan, I., Mendoza, M., Sheng, L., Zhu, M.: Antimicrobial efficacy of gaseous ozone during commercial cold storage of Fuji apples (CaMa, Poland)

Mendoza, M., Hanrahan, I., Gordon, J., Grunenfelder, L.: Improving apple packinghouse food safety in Washington state with tailored workshop modules. ASHS Annual meeting in Hawaii (presented as oral presentation by Gordon)

Mendoza, M., Hanrahan, I., Zhu, M., Jeong, K. and Killinger, K.: Survival of Generic E. coli on Fuji Apples with the Applications of Overhead Evaporative Cooling Water near Harvest (presented as oral presentation at ASHS in Hawaii by Mendoza)

Media coverage:

Jan. 14: Food safety research focuses on packing (www.goodfruit.com/food-safety-research-focuses-on-packing/)

Jan. 26: Targeting bacterial die-off in cold storage with ozone (www.goodfruit.com/targeting-bacterial-pathogens-in-cold-storage-with- ozone/)

Feb. 23: Is it really clean: aggressive cleaning makes a big difference (www.goodfruit.com/is-it-really-clean-aggressive-cleaning-makes-big- difference/)

March 10: Study: Overhead cooling does not appear to impact the survival of E. coli on apples (www.goodfruit.com/study-overhead-cooling-does-not-appear-to-impact-the- survival-of-e-coli-on-apples/

Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Association Annual meeting, video recording of talk: “Listeria lessons learned”; https://livestream.com/BarnMedia/CFVGA2017/videos/150264922


WSTFA Food safety training videos: Hand washing training and cross contamination vs. cross contact

Pacific Northwest Food Safety and Sanitation Conference, Portland (lead panel discussion)

Meijun lab visit in Yakima Valley in October (1 day: arranged schedule and hosted)

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