(Aug. 27) First it was the processors with a recall. Then grower-shippers changed their practices, followed by a buyer group-led marketing agreement.

Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture is showing its commitment to fighting E. coli by pledging $5.5 million to support research efforts that identify risk factors and preventive measures for E. coli O157:H7 contamination in fresh produce.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns in late August said USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service will fund researchers at the University of California-Davis to continue a study in California’s Central Coast growing region.

The industry expects the findings will be shared with the new Center for Produce Safety at the university, as they should be.

This is another important step on a long journey to rebuild consumer confidence in fresh vegetables and then keep it high.