Leading controlled environment agriculture (CEA) growers BrightFarms, Irvington, N.Y.; AeroFarms, Newark, N.J.; and Little Leaf Farms, Devens, Mass., joined forces to establish what is dubbed as the first food safety group geared specifically toward establishing food safety standards among CEA produce brands.

"The growing methods in our industry are different as compared to centralized and long-distance field-grown produce. This coalition provides an opportunity for all brands in the space to collaborate in an effort to further protect consumers by establishing standards and sharing insights," says Paul Lightfoot, chief executive officer of BrightFarms. "This is a critically important step in maintaining consumer confidence and supporting the growth of our industry."

“There is a real need for a group of this kind that enables the industry to combine their collective learning to develop and advance food safety practices,” says Dr. Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C. “We frequently get questions from CEA growers with food safety in mind, and this coalition will serve as a resource to not only these growers, but [also] to all companies in the industry.”  

“By coming together, these leaders will advance food safety for controlled environment growers and for the fresh produce industry as a whole, which in turn will benefit consumers and public health,” says Bob Whitaker, chief science and technology officer for the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del. “They ask good questions about how to ensure their particular practices produce safe products, and have demonstrated they are willing to learn from and share ideas on risk- and science-based food safety with their open agriculture counterparts.”

“We take food safety very seriously, and are proud to help lead this effort to elevate this critical topic not only for CEA growers, but also the industry overall, including our retailer partners and ultimately the consumer,” adds David Rosenberg, chief executive officer of AeroFarms.

The CEA produce industry is primarily made up of brands using hydroponic, aeroponic or aquaponic methods.