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N.C. Produce Safety Task Force recognized by Extension organization

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produce safety task forcePhoto courtesy of Diane DucharmeMembers of the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Task Force were recognized for their efforts recently. Pictured, from left, are Trevor Phister, Ben Chapman, Diane Ducharme and Chris Gunter, all of N.C. State University.

Media contact: Diane Ducharme, or 704.250.5402

The North Carolina Fresh Produce Safety Task Force has been recognized as an outstanding team by the Xi Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi, Cooperative Extension’s professional development organization.

Established in 2007, the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Task Force has more than 70 members, including faculty members at both N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University, as well as county Extension agents in agriculture and natural resources, and family and consumer sciences program areas. The task force also includes growers, regulators and agriculture advocates.

The group’s first goal, funded by both Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension and North Carolina’s Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, was to train county Extension agents in good agricultural practices (GAPs) to protect crops from field to fork.

In addition, task force members developed a produce safety curriculum and used it to train 152 N.C. Cooperative Extension agents and more than 650 growers. The task force has extended its influence through social media and by sharing its curriculum with other states, reaching nearly half a million participants. More than 400 educational presentations have been offered in North and South Carolina, Arkansas and Nebraska.

The four team members recognized with the award, all from N.C. State University, are: Dr. Ben Chapman, assistant professor and food safety Extension specialist, 4-H Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences Department; Diane Ducharme, GAPs program coordinator and Extension associate in horticulture and food safety with N.C. MarketReady, Plants for Human Health Institute; Dr. Chris Gunter, vegetable production Extension specialist, Horticultural Science Department; and Dr. Trevor Phister, assistant professor and Extension specialist, Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences Department.

For more information, visit the task force website at

Written by Natalie Hampton, or 919.513.3128

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