November 19, 2009

In Today's Issue:


Senate Begins to Move Food Safety Legislation

SenateBy voice vote yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee (HELP) passed the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (S.510). Introduced earlier this year, the legislation represents the first major move by the Senate to reform the nation's food safety laws.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Hazard analysis and preventive controls: Requires all facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food to have in place risk-based preventive control plans to address identified hazards and prevent adulteration and gives FDA access to these plans and relevant documentation
  • Imports: Requires importers to verify the safety of foreign suppliers and imported food. Allows FDA to require certification for high-risk foods and to deny entry to a food that lacks certification or that is from a foreign facility that has refused U.S. inspectors. Creates a voluntary qualified importer program in which importers with a certification of safety for their foreign supplier can pay a user-free for expedited entry into the U.S.
  • Inspection: Requires FDA to inspect all food facilities more frequently, including inspections of high-risk facilities at least once a year and inspections of other facilities at least once every four years
  • Mandatory Recall: Gives FDA the authority to order a mandatory recall of a food product if the food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death and a company has failed to voluntarily recall the product upon FDA's request
  • Administrative Detention: Gives FDA the authority to administratively detain any food that is misbranded or adulterated under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act
  • Increases FDA Resources: Increases funding for FDA's food safety activities through increased appropriations and targeted fees for food facility reinspection, food recalls, and the voluntary qualified importer program

This legislation also includes a comprehensive plan to incorporate a commodity-specific, risk- and science-based approach to develop specific standards for the safety of fresh produce. 

United President and CEO Tom Stenzel testified before the Senate HELP Committee three weeks ago and commented on S. 510, saying, “We support this bill as an aggressive and comprehensive approach to reforming food safety law.  While we would like to see further direction to HHS for improving outbreak investigations, we believe many of the tough issues have been addressed in this legislation, leading to the bipartisan nature of its co-sponsors.” 

"Specifically, we applaud the bill's commodity-specific approach to produce," Stenzel continued, "which necessarily focuses resources where most needed.  We applaud the bill's requirement that FDA work with USDA and the states in implementation and compliance measures.  We also applaud the bill's mandate for an expedited entry program for imports that can demonstrate compliance with U.S. food safety standards.  We urge the committee to move swiftly in deliberations on S. 510 in order to allow Senate consideration this year."

After the markup, Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy, stated, "It is clear that the 111th Congress and the administration have made reforming our nation's food safety laws a top legislative priority. With the passage of H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 in the House and the pending consideration of S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 in the Senate, it is critical that the produce industry support legislation that reforms our federal system of food safety oversight and restores public confidence in what too often appears to be a broken system. S. 510 provides a clear roadmap to pursue a set of policy recommendations that brings us closer to a comprehensive food safety program and will achieve our goals of a stronger fresh produce industry."

There is currently no timetable for consideration of this legislation on the Senate floor.


Senate Child Nutrition Hearing: Healthier School Meals, More Fruits and Vegetables Encouraged

Salad Bar

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has signaled his strong support for, and impending action toward, increasing the amount of healthy fruits and vegetables served in American schools. The secretary made his comments during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture on the reauthorization of the country's child nutrition programs earlier this week.

The Senate Agriculture Committee, led by new Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, has jurisdiction over the child nutrition bill and interest in the topic was reflected by a large turnout among committee members. Testifying before the committee, Secretary Vilsack detailed the Obama Administration's two highest priorities for child nutrition reauthorization: Improving students' access to healthy foods and enhancing the quality and health of the foods available in schools. These two efforts remain consistent with United's child nutrition priorities and are in many ways a reflection of United's years of leadership on child nutrition issues.

"Our young people are eating far less dark green and dark orange vegetables than they need, far fewer fruits than they need, far more refined grains and far too few whole grains, and far too much high-fat dairy products and too few low fat or non-fat dairy products," said the secretary.

Additionally, on the heels of the recently-released Institute of Medicine report recommending significant increases in both the amount and the variety of vegetables and fruits offered at school, Secretary Vilsack touted the need for USDA to establish improved nutrition standards for schools meals.

"We will pay close attention to the performance of school districts," continued Vilsack, "including a reduction in eligibility certification errors and tying higher reimbursement rates to meal patterns that include more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less added sugar, fat and sodium and more low fat dairy products."

The Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) comes up before Congress every five years and sets standards for foods provided through the National School Lunch Program, school breakfast, WIC and other government feeding programs. According to Secretary Vilsack's testimony, 100,000 schools offer school lunch, feeding nearly 31 million children daily, but only 88,000 schools offer breakfast to 11 million children who choose to eat, a number USDA hopes to improve.  The previous child nutrition bill expired in September and has since been extended, but with healthcare still dominating the congressional calendar, movement on the new CNR has been pushed back.

For more on United's progress on child nutrition, please visit www.unitedfresh.org.


Federal Court Dismisses No-Match Case

District Court

In the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California yesterday, Judge Charles Breyer dismissed the court case against the Department of Homeland Security's no-match regulation, ending a two-year legal battle between the federal government, business groups, labor organizations, civil liberties and immigration rights groups. The dismissal of the case - in which United Fresh served as one of the business plaintiffs - follows an October 8 announcement that DHS was rescinding the controversial rule which targeted employers with undocumented workers.

The rule was an attempt by DHS to provide guidance to employers on what the department believed was a correct response to a no-match letter from the Social Security Administration or an equivalent notification letter from DHS.

That, however, is not where the department's guidance stopped. A separate section of the rule sought to broaden the definition of "constructive knowledge" as it is used in reference to the employment of individuals who are not authorized to work in the U.S. The regulations did this by including the receipt of a Social Security or DHS equivalent no-match letter as one of the ways DHS could prove that an employer had "constructive knowledge" that it had an unauthorized worker on its payroll.

Current federal law prohibits an employer from "knowingly hiring" or "continuing to employ" a worker who is not authorized to work in the U.S. In addition to actually knowing an employee is unauthorized to work - referred to as "actual knowledge" - employers can also learn that the employee is not authorized to work through "constructive knowledge."

Accordingly, the DHS rule claimed a "reasonable person" could infer an employee's unauthorized status through receipt of a no-match letter. Therefore, according to DHS, it could reasonably expect a company to take steps to ensure that an employee is truly authorized to work. If the company does not take the suggested steps and DHS finds that the employee is an unauthorized worker, the company could be held liable for continuing to employ an unauthorized worker.

"From the outset, United has been committed to making sure our members fully understood and were prepared to comply with this regulation. At the same time, however, we continued to oppose processes that created uncertainties and disruptions throughout a broad sector of our produce workforce," said United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther.  "We are pleased all of this has come to a conclusion and the industry was not burdened with an unworkable program."


DiSogra Discusses Benefits of School Fruit Schemes Before Montreal Think Tanks

McGill

United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra traveled to Montreal, Quebec earlier this week to speak at McGill University's World Platform for Health and Economic Convergence Think Tank 2009, a gathering of policy leaders from around the world. The initiative is designed to build on leading models of more humanitarian and environment-conscious capitalism to promote business, social and health innovation and technology to create sustainable health and wealth for all.

Dr.DiSogra and colleague Robert Pederson of the European Agriculture and Health Consortium in Brussels, Belgium presented Aligning AG Policy with Public Health Policy: Case Studies on the U.S. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and E.U School Fruit Schemes.

On Monday, the pair spoke before the Harnessing the Power of Business for Global Health Diplomacy group and in front of the Integrating Health and Agriculture gathering on Tuesday.

"United and the European Agriculture and Health Consortium collaborated during 2007 and 2008 to secure EUR90 million a year from the European Commission to expand school fruit schemes to all 27 EU countries," said Dr. DiSogra. "We believe these programs are a win-win for children's health and the health of the produce industry. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to inspire other countries to engage in similar public policy initiatives."

For more information, please contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400 ext. 404. 


DiSogra, Congressional Staff to Observe Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program at Wisconsin Elementary School

Snack Program

United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra and staff from the office of House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-WI) toured James Madison Elementary School in Stevens Point, Wisc. today to observe the school's participation in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program.

Joining the group were representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Health, American Heart Association and FFVP's Department of Public Instruction.

Check back in next week's Inside United Fresh for a complete recap of the visit.


CDC's Online H1N1 Flu Resource Contains Answers on Frequently-Asked Food Questions

Flu

The online H1N1 virus information portal designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, answers.flu.gov, contains a section dedicated to clearing up misinformation about food and its role in the spread of both the seasonal and the H1N1 flu viruses.

Last week, United Fresh was invited to participate in the CDC's teleconference on the H1N1 situation, where it was reiterated that the H1N1 and seasonal flu viruses are not known to be transmitted through food items.

A direct link to the food-related questions page can be found here. Helpful questions include the following:

For more information on the H1N1 and seasonal flu viruses and prevention measures, please visit Flu.gov


National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance Meets in D.C.

Late last week, United hosted members of the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance as part of a meeting of the group's steering committee. A public-private partnership of produce and health-related organizations, the Alliance is committed to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and is collaborating on implementation of the group's National Action Plan.

As part of the event, United Fresh organized a special meeting with senior administration officials from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to discuss the department's priorities for increasing fruits and vegetables in child nutrition programs.  The Alliance is committed to fostering closer collaboration with USDA and Julie Paradis, administrator for Food and Nutrition Programs, will represent USDA on the Alliance steering committee.

The committee is co-chaired by CDC and Produce for Better Health Foundation and includes United Fresh, PMA, American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, American Diabetes Association, National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, California Department of Health Services, State Fruit and Vegetable Coordinators, Canned Food Alliance and American Frozen Food Institute.

For more information, please contact United's liaison to the Alliance, Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400 ext. 404. 


United: Success as a Produce Executive Hinges on Success in These 12 Core Areas

Cornell

United Fresh will again partner with Cornell University's Food Industry Management Program to present the 2010 Produce Executive Development Program, March 14-19, 2010 on the Cornell campus in Ithaca, N.Y. The program is an intense five-day tutorial focusing on issues critical to both personal development and the larger challenges and opportunities that today’s executives must master.

Attendees to the program will explore the following areas of executive leadership:

Executive Leadership
  • Explore the paradigms of executive leadership and how they differ from management strategies
  • Gain first-hand insight into leadership success (and failure) and key challenges that executives face today
Today's Food Retailing & Foodservice Climate
  • Examine what's really happening in today's retail and foodservice industries and the potential implications and opportunities for the produce industry
Competitive Strategy
  • Learn how strategy is inherently different than operational effectiveness
  • Discover why executives must master this concept to ensure sustained, maximized performance
Team Dynamics and Decision Making
  • Uncover what it takes to develop a high performance team to maximize a company's effectiveness
  • Find out which elements are the most critical for success - and how to avoid pitfalls that stall performance
Strategies for Growth in Entrepreneurial Environments
  • Learn why entrepreneurs take risks, create new markets, and use organizational flexibility to gain market share
  • Discover which entrepreneurial strategies are best for produce businesses
Supply Chain Simulation
  • Gain firsthand experience managing inventories and how one individual's decision can impact overall performance
  • Learn why rational decision making can lead to suboptimal performance in an environment where collaboration is absent
Understanding Your Executive Leadership Style
  • Through a customized assessment, analyze your personal type of executive leadership
  • Develop a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as an executive
Work/Life Balance: The Power of Sleep
  • Find out what impact sleep - and lack thereof - can have on executive performance, including the 70 million
  • Learn how to stop making crucial business decisions in an impaired state
Negotiation & Conflict Resolution
  • Master negotiation skills and how to make a persuasive case and marshal the resources to carry out the strategy
  • Find creative and effective resolutions to conflicts
Leading Through Change
  • Change is a normal part of today’s workplace, but can be unnerving to even the most solid employees
  • Learn the concepts and skills necessary to lead through change and use it to the greater benefit of the company
Produce Industry Forecast for the Future
  • Create a consensus forecast for the future of the industry
  • Develop strategies that will allow firms to cope with and be prepared for what's to come
A Survival Guide to Financial Planning
  • Take a step-by-step analysis of key financial areas, including: Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Statement of Cash Flows, and Discounted Cash Flow Analysis, as well as capital decision making and company valuation
  • Discover what the data tells us - and doesn't tell us - about the financial status of a firm

To find out more about the 2010 Produce Executive Development Program, click here or contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education coordinator at 202-303-3400 ext. 405.


Sought-After Executive Coach Highlights Complimentary Webcast

Michael Goldsmith

United Fresh members are invited to participate in a complimentary livecast featuring one of America's most sought-after executive coaches. As the third presenter in United and Leading Authorities’ Executive Education Livecast Series, Marshall Goldsmith will teach participants the latest innovations in peer coaching.

Goldsmith's presentation will answer questions such as how to understand the unique challenges faced by successful people, how to use "what to stop" in personal development and coaching and how to implement "feet forward" - a positive, focused tool for improvement. This free livecast will teach you a proven, research-based model for developing yourself and coaching others.

The event is complimentary for United Fresh members and will take place December 3 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

For more information and to register for this online session, click here or contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education coordinator, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405.


United Members Receive Discounted Rate for CPMA Traceability Webinar

Traceability Webinar

As part of its continuing traceability webinar series, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association will host Preparing for the Produce Traceability Initiative on December 4 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST. The webinar is designed to assist the supplier community in their efforts to implement the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI).

Questions for discussion include:

  • What are the key requirements for PTI compliance?
  • How will PTI implementation facilitate better recall?
  • What is a GTIN and what do you need to know to create one for your PTI compliant case identification?
  • What are the implications to various shippers including: international shippers, U.S.-based shippers and Canadian shippers?

United Fresh members will receive the special CPMA member rate of $25 CAD. To register, please click here or contact CPMA's Bev Appelby at 613-226-4187, ext. 227.


Produce Again Showcased at Annual United Thanksgiving Staff Lunch

Staff Lunch

Receptionist Sophie Drayton's candied yams walked away with the coveted "Best Produce Dish" award Monday as United held its annual Staff Thanksgiving Lunch in Washington. A pot-luck-style competition, the lunch required that each United staffer submit one dish outside of the traditional turkey and ham, provided by president and CEO Tom Stenzel.

"The Thanksgiving Lunch is a great opportunity for the staff to show off their cooking prowess with the fruits - and vegetables - of our industry's hard work," said Stenzel.

Other award recipients include:

  • Best Overall Dish (tie): Traditional Thanksgiving chicken tikka masala – Angela Bezon, political affairs manager
  • Best Overall Dish (tie): Macaroni and cheese – Tressie Tillar, accounting assistant
  • Best Dessert: Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies - Melissa Speed, international member services director

Chairman's Roundtable Thanks 2010 Supporters

United Fresh's Chairman's Roundtable provides extra support for programs in government relations, food safety, nutrition policy and other areas to help grow the produce industry. We are pleased to recognize the following companies who have committed to the 2010 Chairman's Roundtable:

  • A & J Produce Corporation, Bronx, N.Y.
  • Andrews Bros., Inc., Detroit, Mich.
  • California Giant Berry Farms, Inc., Watsonville, Calif.
  • D’Arrigo Brothers Company of New York, Bronx, N.Y.
  • Danaco Solutions, Highland Park, Ill.
  • Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Oviedo, Fla.
  • Field Fresh Foods, Gardena, Calif.
  • Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Maitland, Fla.
  • Lakeside Produce Distribution, Rocky River, Ohio
  • R.C. Farms, Gonzales, Calif.
  • Tanimura & Antle, Salinas, Calif.
  • Wiers Farm/Dutch Maid Logistics, Willard, Ohio
  • Windset Farms, Delta, B.C.

The Chairman's Roundtable is an opportunity for United Fresh member companies to contribute above and beyond their basic dues. Roundtable members are industry leaders who set the pace in building United Fresh's strength in areas that do not generate their own revenue. Members of Chairman's Roundtable enjoy special recognition throughout the year for their support.  For more information on the Chairman’s Roundtable, please contact Director of Membership Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.


New Member Welcome

Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:

  • AgSolutions Inc., Hockessin, Del.
  • Fresh Appeal USA, Inc., Keene, N.H.
Welcome

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 at 831-422-0940 or Miriam Miller at 202-303-3410.

Upcoming United Fresh Events
Upcoming Events


News & Views

U.S. NEWS:

News and Views

USDA backs rewarding schools that serve healthy food

California WIC shows off foods new to the nutrition program

Merrigan hopes grants fertilize a new crop of farmers

America's economic pain brings hunger pangs

Stabenow works to help Michigan growers with food safety

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

Developing countries get backing for easier trade

Back to basics for Hong Kong produce company

New report on increased food security in Ethiopia, other countries

Farmer protests over foreign workers block roads again in Israel

With traceability, organic roots at consumers' fingertips in India


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