October 29, 2008

In Today's Issue:

Association Leaders To Meet With FDA, CDC

Chairman Tom Lovelace

United Fresh Chairman of the Board Tom Lovelace, Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Chairman Dave Corsi and staff from both associations will meet with officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tomorrow to discuss ways in which industry expertise can be used more effectively to narrow and resolve outbreak investigations. Chairman Lovelace arrived at United Fresh headquarters in Washington today to begin preparations for the meeting, which was organized following a joint United-PMA letter to government officials detailing concerns about this past summer’s Salmonella outbreak investigation. “This is an important step in continuing our dialogue with FDA and CDC to drive significant improvement in the way outbreak investigations are conducted,” Lovelace said. “We’re committed to working with all of our members, government and other stakeholders to see that real change occurs so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes made this summer.” Check back in the coming weeks for more on the meetings.

Produce Extraordinarily Safe Food, Stenzel Tells Restaurant Leaders
National Restaurant AssocationIn his presentation to the National Restaurant Association Food Safety Conference on Thursday, United Fresh President Tom Stenzel reinforced the fact that fresh produce is an extraordinarily safe food that restaurants should be confident in increasing on their menus. “Every major public health authority around the world, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control, continues to advise that the risk to health of not consuming an abundant array of fruits and vegetables is far greater than the isolated risk of foodborne illness,” he said. Tom went on to talk about specific ways the industry has enhanced food safety practices. He concluded in outlining a series of lessons the government, industry and all stakeholders need to learn from this past summer’s Salmonella outbreak in which tomatoes were incorrectly indicted as the culprit. “We’ve got to bring as much effort now to more effective management of outbreak investigations as we have to implement good agricultural practices,” he said. “Prevention always comes first; but public confidence in produce simply cannot be whipsawed with false accusations and speculation every time there’s an outbreak.”

Tomato Industry Begins Work to Harmonize Metrics
Tomato fieldWith the ink barely dry on the 2nd Edition Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain, over 20 North American tomato supplier, buyer and auditor representatives assembled in Orlando, Fla. this week to begin developing harmonized audit standards for tomato field operations. Building on the California Tomato Farmers’ Best Management Practices, which are based on the 2nd Edition of the Tomato Guidelines, the group began to spell out exactly how an auditor is expected to assess compliance with the standards. “More and more, growers are faced with audits and auditors with inconsistent standards,” said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology. “If we can narrow the gray area of what is and is not compliant while maintaining the flexibility that different types of tomatoes and different growing practices require, we can greatly reduce this source of growers’ frustration. However, we will succeed only if all stakeholders participate, which is why we’ve opened the initiative to all interested parties.” The group will meet again in December to continue the process, with a final document expected in early 2009. Contact David at 202-303-3411 for more information on how to participate.

Industry-critical Research Available Free to United Fresh Members
Produce AisleFresh Facts on Retail, a new retail sales trends report by United Fresh, debuted this week to strong reviews, with one member citing the report as “One of the most useful resources I have seen in a long time” and one that “Impacts companies of all sizes and types in our supply chain.” The new quarterly sales trend report is produced in cooperation with The Perishables Group, which gathers and analyzes actual sales data from retail supermarkets across the country, and is sponsored by Del Monte Fresh Produce. The new report can be easily downloaded from the United Fresh website, and is available free of charge to members and at a nominal fee of $50 to non-members.

Invest In An Ivy League Educational Experience; Invest in Your Future
Cornell UniversityProfessional development is at the heart of career advancement and top-flight industry executives are showing that they want to take crucial steps to separate themselves from other leaders in their respective fields. Presented in partnership with Cornell University, the Produce Executive Development Program is the premier destination for produce industry executives to sharpen their business skills. The 2009 course is designed for mid- to senior-level executives interested in gaining a competitive edge in tackling the key challenges and opportunities facing today's produce industry. The program has sold out two years in a row, and is on pace to do the same in 2009. Register online or contact Beth Berman, United Fresh education manager at 202-303-3405.

Growth in European Fresh-Cut Market Leads to Freshconex Growth
FreshConexIn response to the growth in the fresh-cut produce market in Europe, the 2009 Freshconex exposition, which provides a specialized platform for the fresh-cut convenience sector, has been moved to a larger exhibition hall, alongside the Fruit Logistica exposition. The Freshconex expo will include exhibitors from 14 countries covering trade from products and processing technologies to quality control and safety. The rapid growth in the fresh-cut sector will be discussed at the Freshconex Congress, organized by United Fresh in partnership with Eurofruit Magazine. Register today for this special event or contact Melissa Speed, director of international member services, at 202-303-3404 for more information.

United Fresh Pushes for More Fruits and Vegetables in Child Nutrition
APHAA key focus of the American Public Health Association’s Annual Convention in San Diego this week was the improvement of child nutrition. In her presentation, Advocacy, Policy and Environmental Changes to Improve Child Nutrition Policy, Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health at United Fresh and resident champion of all things child nutrition, emphasized the public health benefits of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program and encouraged public health advocates to support the produce industry’s priorities for the upcoming 2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Lorelei urged the audience to engage their members of Congress and advocate for improving the healthfulness of school meals. “Building broad support among the public health community for United Fresh’s national school salad bar policy and other policies to increase fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals is critical to our success.” For more information, contact Lorelei at 202-303-3403.
Lorelei “Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health attends the conference of the American Public Health Association.”

New Member Welcome
Welcome New MembersEach week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:
  • North Carolina State Farmers Market, Raleigh, NC
  • TraceGains, Inc., Longmont, CO
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

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USDA study looks at link between ethanol and E. coli

Safeway inks deal for PuriCore’s Sterilox Food Safety Systems