April 23, 2008

In Today's Issue:

Bipartisan House Food Safety Bill Introduced Today
Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Putman (R-FL) introduced a new bipartisan food safety bill today in the House of Representatives.  The Safe Food Enforcement, Assessment, Standards and Targeting Act (Safe FEAST Act), includes a number of provisions aimed at enhancing the food safety regulatory framework that builds public confidence in the food supply. “We congratulate Congressmen Costa and Putman on their leadership in introducing the Safe FEAST Act of 2008,” said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel in a public statement today.  “Our industry is committed to employing best agricultural and handling practices for both domestically grown and imported foods, and we look forward to working with Congressmen Costa and Putman on the details of their bill, as well as other Congressional leaders in both the House and Senate.”  For more information, contact Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh, 202-303-3409.

Produce Show Expands the Meaning of “Fresh” in 2009

United Fresh Produce Association announced that it will expand its annual trade show and convention to focus on produce innovations, fresh meals, and technology solutions for the total fresh produce and fresh meals supply chains, including the many retail and foodservice marketing channels.  UNITED FRESH 2009 is the umbrella event, encompassing two unique expos – United Fresh Marketplace and United FreshTech – that will be held at the Sands Expo Center and the Venetian Hotel, April 22-24, 2009.  As part of its expanded focus on fresh foods, UNITED FRESH 2009 will feature a new Meal Solutions Showcase highlighting innovation and product development that combines fresh fruits, vegetables and other fresh foods into prepared meals and healthy snacks.  This new focus on fresh prepared foods will serve the growing business of in-store foodservice operations and the wide array of restaurants and other channels traditionally focused on prepared foods.  For information about exhibiting at UNITED FRESH 2009, please contact John Toner, director of convention sales and services, at 202-303-3424.  To register for the 2008 show in Las Vegas, visit www.unitedfreshshows.com.

Registration Open for Recall/Crisis Management Course in Yakima, WA
The United Fresh Research & Education Foundation is adding another Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire courses to its 2008 educational offerings. The next course will be offered August 26-28 in Yakima, Washington. This popular course has already been held in Baltimore, MD, San Francisco, CA and Phoenix, AZ with sell-out attendance each time.  “Our members in the Yakima area asked if we would bring this course to Washington state, and we were pleased that we could schedule it as soon as we did,” said Amy Philpott, vice president of marketing and industry relations at United Fresh.  Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire is a multi-part course, including a two-day workshop on how to minimize your liability and prevent a product recall from becoming a crisis.  A half day of media training is offered separately.  For additional registration and housing information, please contact Beth Berman or 202-303-3405.

James Macek, Coosemans Worldwide, Inc., is interviewed on TV during media training.

Attendees put their product recall plan into action during a recall drill.

United Fresh at Grape & Tree Fruit League Fruit Inspection Workshop
“Every fresh produce commodity is vulnerable to contamination if companies aren’t vigilant, and every fresh produce commodity is one outbreak away from being considered ‘high risk,’” said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president food safety and technology, at this year’s California Grape & Tree Fruit League Fruit Inspection workshop.  “Industry knows best their own food safety risks and how to control them in a practical manner.  Companies should work with their trade association to develop Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines and then use those guidelines to develop and maintain company-specific food safety plans.  Not only does this reduce vulnerability in commodities not currently considered at risk, but government and buyers consider such industry documents when developing food safety standards.”  David has served as editor for both the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Lettuce and Leafy Greens Supply Chain and the soon-to-be-released second edition of the food safety guidelines for the fresh tomato supply chain.

Business & Ag Leaders to Deliver Keynote Addresses
Keynote Speaker, CEO Steve Burd, a leader among the American business community in driving solutions to the health care crisis, will kick off the first day of the United Fresh Las Vegas 2008 show on Monday, May 5 at our Opening Breakfast General.  Hear how Mr. Burd has developed real-world solutions, with incentives for individuals to make healthy choices about fruit and vegetable consumption and exercise.  Monday morning, we'll also announce the recipient of the much esteemed Packer Person of the Year Award. 

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer will deliver the keynote address at theUnited Fresh Annual Meeting and Breakfast General Session Tuesday during the show. Whether completed or not, the Farm Bill and its impact on the fruit and vegetable industry is sure to be at the center of Secretary Schafer’s keynote address. He is also expected to provide insights on a variety of issues impacting the produce industry, including immigration reform, implementation of the new Women, Infants and Children (WIC) fruit and vegetable vouchers, and USDA’s outreach and assistance to the industry in areas such as food safety and training.

The Opening Breakfast General Session and Annual Meeting & Breakfast General Session Attendance is included in the All Access Pass. Register online now at www.unitedfreshshows.com.

Attn: All Fresh-cut Produce Companies - Be HACCP Prepared!
The University of Georgia, in sponsorship with United Fresh, has designed a short course on the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point or HACCP, specifically for the fresh-cut produce industry.  The fresh-cut industry is facing ever-tightening scrutiny from the FDA and consumers to improve food safety. Be prepared!  This program, accredited by the International HACCP Alliance, will provide you with the skills and knowledge to design, implement, document and maintain HACCP in your fresh-cut business.  The Fresh-cut HACCP short course will be held on May 20-22, 2008 at the University of Georgia campus, Athens, Georgia.  For additional information, including pre-registering for the course and lodging, please click here.

DC Ag Communicators Meet to Talk About Trade
Yesterday, United Fresh hosted the DC Ag Communicators’ quarterly meeting, during which Gretchen Hamel, deputy assistant USTR for public & media affairs, spoke about the role of media relations in bilateral trade negotiations, the World Trade Organization, and trade promotion here in the United States.  “We truly appreciate Gretchen taking time out of her busy day to speak to the group,” said Amy Philpott, vice president of marketing and industry relations at United Fresh. “Gretchen gave us some very practical tips about how to engage foreign press, and how to make the issue of trade a salient one in the domestic press.”  DC Ag Communicators is a group of DC-based communication professionals who work in the agricultural sector.  Members include professionals from a diverse range of agricultural industries, congressional offices and public relation firms specializing in agriculture.  The group meets quarterly to network and hear from a guest speaker who addresses some aspect of communication that relates to agriculture.  “There is great benefit to periodically meeting with other communication professionals in the agricultural industry,” said Amy. “We compare notes on the latest communication tools and the latest ag issues.”

New Member Welcome
Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:
  • Danaco Solutions, Highland Park, IL
  • Diamond Produce LLC, Salinas, CA
  • ImageID, New York, NY
  • Street Innovations, Greensboro, NC
  • Fresh and Easy, El Segundo, CA
United Fresh thanks all current members for their dedication to the association and the produce industry. Please let us know whenever we can be of service to you.  For more details about the benefits of membership, please contact Jeff Oberman.

News & Views
Packaging Innovation
Environmental Leader announces winners of the 20th DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation, recognized for “achievements that improve the sustainability of products and processes. 

Cold Crop
Southwest Idaho growers speak optimistically although their cherry and apricot orchards were severely damaged from the cold several nights ago, says IdahoStatesman.com. 

“Fruit & Vegetables in Italy”

Business Wire reports Research and Markets announcement to add "Fruit & Vegetables in Italy" to their offering.

Twisted Grid
According to Associated Press, once a distribution plan that sent produce from Maryland to schools in South Carolina, is now being revised to boost local farmers’ businesses and consumption of produce by local schoolchildren, while trimming fuel costs for shipping food long distances.

Green House Effect
With the rise of groceries, local green houses are anticipating increasing fruit and vegetable demands this year, suggests KIFI Idaho Falls.

Food Safety Podcasts
United Press International reports the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service said it has started a series of educational podcasts that address food safety and education issues.