CFS Faculty participate in annual fruit and vegetable conference

Dr. Ynes Ortega
Dr. Ynes Ortega Photo by Sharon Dowdy

By Jennifer Reynolds

Communication Professional for the Center for Food Safety

Faculty from the University of Georgia Center for Food Safety (CFS) recently participated in the 2021 Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference. The annual, three-day event was held virtually between Jan. 5-7. 

Presenters gave pre-recorded talks in an area of their expertise, then went live to answer questions. 

Dr. Ynes Ortega, associate professor at CFS, gave a presentation titled, “What is Cyclospora,” in which she highlighted her work with the parasite. Ortega has studied the parasite since the early 1990’s when she was part of the team that first described it. 

She said that outbreaks of cyclospora have been traced to raw produce that was grown and processed in the United States. 

“One of the things we are looking at in my laboratory is how to kill this parasite,” she said, adding that effective methods to inactivate Cyclospora such as heating or freezing cannot be used with produce that will be consumed raw. 

Dr. Laurel Dunn, assistant professor of Food Science and Technology and courtesy faculty to CFS, gave a presentation titled “Food Safety for Blueberry and Other Small Fruit Growers” in which she discussed steps growers can take to help reduce the spread of illness. Her talk emphasized worker hygiene, which she said has become more important since the advent of COVID-19. 

“It’s important that any worker that is ever going to be touching any food -- or any food contact surfaces -- receive food safety training,” she said. 

The event was organized by The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and The South Carolina Peach Council. Educational Session recordings are available online through April 30 at!/Lobby