Produce Marketing Association's Dr. Max Teplitski to Chair National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods; Cathy Burns Comments

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Fri. November 19th, 2021 - by Lilian Diep

NEWARK, DE - A recent announcement from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) came down the newswire. The news came in the form of membership changes to the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) that would focus on strengthening the nation’s food systems through improved production and processing.

Max Teplitski, Chief Science Officer at Produce Marketing Association (PMA), will be one of 13 new members appointed to the group. During the public meeting on November 17, 2021, it was announced that Teplitski will Chair the group’s sub-committee on Cyclospora, along with the Co-Chair, Peggy Cook of Neogen Corporation.

Dr. Max Teplitski, Chief Science Officer, Produce Marketing Association“I’m honored to be chosen not only to serve on NACMCF but provide leadership to the sub-committee specifically focused on developing a road map for understanding and dealing with Cyclospora which is a pathogen of growing concern to our industry and consumers,” said Teplitski. “This federal-private collaboration is essential to not only developing a deep and comprehensive understanding of pathogens like Cyclospora but also to establish realistic and effective practices for produce safety.”

According to a press release, the sub-committee will bring together industry representatives including De Ann Davis of Western Growers, academics and members from regulatory partners including the Food and Drug Association (FDA), and the Department of Defense (DoD).

The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) has made changes that will focus on strengthening the nation’s food systems through improved production and processing

Cyclospora has been identified as a pathogen of growing concern, and little is understood about the persistence of the pathogen in the crop production environment.

Cathy Burns, Chief Executive Officer, Produce Marketing Association“Max’s extensive background in both microbiology and crop production prepares him to lead the committee as they develop a better understanding of Cyclospora and how it contaminates crops,” said PMA Chief Executive Officer Cathy Burns. “But his experience and knowledge of federal programs, policies, and procedures positions him to be an exceptional leader of this sub-committee. He will be a great advocate for the industry and a strong leader in the development of recommendations that follow the science.”

Those on the Cyclospora sub-committee are charged with furthering the understanding of the lifecycle of the pathogen, mine all available data, and come up with recommendations that food safety agencies can use to develop policies that are built on solid science. At the end of the year, the committee will submit a comprehensive report to the FDA that will be available to the general public. The report will be shared during a briefing held at the end of the year, but there will be periodic public meetings providing updates throughout 2022.

Cyclospora is a pathogen of growing concern to our industry and consumers, as it affects crops such as leafy greens

Throughout his career, Teplitski has built private-public partnerships to address issues around microbiology and safety in agricultural production.

Prior to joining PMA, he served as the Acting Director for the divisions of food safety microbiology and nutrition at the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and oversaw a program on plant breeding for food safety. Before that, he was a Professor at the University of Florida and studied the survival of human pathogens in the environment and the interactions of human pathogens and vegetable crops. He also served as the Fulbright specialist in agriculture in Ecuador and as a Burch Fellow in theoretical medicine at the Smithsonian Institution.

Max Teplitski will continue his role as Chief Science Officer in the International Fresh Produce Association when it launches in January 2022.

We’ll continue to track the committee’s efforts, so stay tuned to AndNowUKnow.

Produce Marketing Association