Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), will be honored Oct. 5 with an “Award of Distinction” from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES) at the University of California-Davis.
The award is presented annually to those whose contributions and achievements enhance the college’s ability to provide cutting-edge research, top-notch education, and innovative outreach. Silbermann is being recognized as a “Friend of the College” for his crucial role in establishing the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) at UC-Davis in response to an outbreak of E. coli in spinach in 2006. Seven other people — faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the college — will also receive the award.
“The Award of Distinction recipients are highly accomplished, as well as influential in their daily lives, and we are honored by their strong connection to and support of our college,” said Mary Delany, interim CA&ES dean. “We look forward to recognizing these eight remarkable people at our annual fall harvest celebration where we step aside from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life to celebrate the vital linkage of such individuals to our mission of serving the public good by advancing agriculture, human communities and the environment.”
Silbermann, along with then-CA&ES Dean Neal Van Alfen, and then-California Secretary of Food and Agriculture A.G. Kawamura, were the principal architects of the new center. At Silbermann’s recommendation, the PMA board of directors approved $2 million in start-up funding for CPS administrative expenses. Once PMA’s pledge was in place, others followed with commitments to serve on the CPS advisory board or technical committee and, in the case of Taylor Farms, pledge an additional $2 million to start a research program.
“The success of the produce industry begins and ends with our collective commitment to public health,” Silbermann said at the time the CPS was created. “Our members, who represent every link of the nation’s produce supply chain, are committed to supporting robust food safety programs based on the best science available.”
CPS has since become a broadly respected resource that identifies research priorities, funds research, and coordinates forums to convey research information throughout the produce industry. To date, it has funded 42 research projects in four countries at 17 research institutions and in 12 U.S. states. In addition to direct research, CPS has become a go-to location for federal and state food safety agencies to source current industry practices.