December 17, 2009

In Today's Issue:

Reps. Farr, Putnam Introduce Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act; United Fresh Cheers

From left, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) and United Fresh President Tom Stenzel gather on Capitol Hill today for the introduction of the Children’s Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009.

United Fresh congratulated Congressmen Sam Farr (D-CA) and Adam Putnam (R-FL) today on their introduction of the Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009 (H.R. 4333) on Capitol Hill.  United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel thanked the congressmen for their leadership on the bill, which now becomes a priority component of overall Child Nutrition legislation in 2010 reauthorizing the school lunch and breakfast programs.  

"The introduction of this legislation is an important step calling attention to the simple but powerful role fruit and vegetable bars in schools can have in improving kids’ health," Stenzel said.  "Research has shown that schoolchildren significantly increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables when given a variety of choices in a school salad bar.  When offered multiple fresh fruit and vegetable choices, children respond by trying new items, incorporating greater variety into their diets and increasing their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables." 

United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra and students from the Will Rogers Learning Community on Santa Monica, Calif. enjoy fresh salads from the schools salad bar during a visit in 2008.

H.R. 4333 is the latest chapter in a partnership between Congressman Farr and United Fresh, who teamed up last fall to showcase a school salad bar to lawmakers during United’s Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill, then donate the salad bar to a Washington-area elementary school.  Now, together with Rep. Putnam and 14 other original co-sponsors, Rep. Farr is working to make salad bars a reality for schoolchildren across the country.

The new legislation is intended to provide policy direction to USDA to work with schools to promote the adoption of fruit and vegetable salad bars and other strategies to increase access to fruits and vegetables in school meals.  Additional funding for school lunch programs will be considered in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization.

Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) and LaTisha Savoy of the District of Columbia's Office of the State Superintendent of Education enjoy United's school salad bar on display during the Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill in September.

The Institute of Medicine's October report, School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children, recommends doubling the amount of fruit served at school breakfast and doubling the amount of fruits and vegetables served in school lunch.  America's children currently eat less than half of the daily amount of fruits and vegetables recommended for good health by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines.  The report also recommends funding for cafeteria equipment and training, and increasing the federal reimbursement rate for school meals so that schools can serve more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  The bill brings attention to many of the IOM's recommendations and provides an opportunity to build congressional support for including these priorities in the 2010 Child Nutrition Act.

"The benefits of fruit and vegetable salad bars also extend beyond just the produce consumed during the breakfast or lunch hour at school," said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president for nutrition and health.  "Increased daily access to a variety of fresh produce items provides a personal experience about choices that can shape behavior far beyond the school lunch line.  Children learn to make decisions that carry over outside of school, providing a platform for a lifetime of healthy snack and meal choices."

For more on United's work on child nutrition and the 2010 reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, please contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400 or visit

NatureSeal and United Fresh Talk Child Nutrition in Washington

NatureSeal's Karen Murphy meets with Brian Ronholm, agriculture appropriations associate for Rep. Rosa DeLauro during congressional visits last week.

Passionate child nutrition advocate and NatureSeal marketing manager Karen Murphy hit Capitol Hill full stride last week, advocating for more fresh-cut sliced apples in school lunch programs, salad bars and the Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009. Over three days, Murphy met with more than 15 congressional offices, including Reps. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

Highlighting the popularity of fresh-cut sliced apples with students, Murphy emphasized the importance of USDA making them available to all schools through commodity purchasing by next school year. While in Washington, United Fresh President Tom Stenzel joined Murphy and NatureSeal President William Barrie to meet with AMS Deputy Administrator Bob Keeney and other AMS officials, discussing the expansion of the USDA-AMS fresh-cut sliced apple program to all schools.

For more than four years, Murphy and her colleagues at NatureSeal have advocated increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in schools and are credited with securing the initial funding for Connecticut to participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program through their relationship with Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

United Fresh salutes the NatureSeal team for their commitment to advancing nutrition policy priorities and welcomes other companies to follow in NatureSeal's footsteps.

Illinois' Gutierrez Introduces Immigration Bill Containing AgJOBS

Immigration reform was front and center on Capitol Hill this week as Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP). Included in the bill is language from the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act (AgJOBS), which would set a clear standard for the legalization of migrant farm workers in the United States.

The legislation's introduction was met with praise from United Fresh President Tom Stenzel.

"United Fresh applauds the efforts of Rep. Gutierrez and his colleagues in the House in introducing CIR-ASAP and we are particularly gratified to see inclusion of the AgJOBS legislation, which is broadly supported as a balanced, comprehensive solution for our nation’s agricultural labor crisis."

"Agricultural employers have been adversely affected by targeted immigration enforcement by state and federal authorities," Stenzel said. "Additionally, the federal government has repeatedly modified regulations for temporary worker programs, causing significant confusion and economic harm to farmers and other employers across the U.S. Many of these issues would be eliminated if AgJOBS were passed, providing a clear set of rules for agricultural employers to follow.  AgJOBS can help ensure access to a stable and sufficient workforce for American agriculture, while providing the necessary security that our country demands." 

For more information on United's work on immigration reform, please contact Kam Quarles, United Fresh vice president of government relations and legislative affairs at 202-303-3400 ext. 427.

United Fresh & DuPont Prepare for 16th Year of Leadership Program

This week, executives from the DuPont Crop Protection team, including Scotty Crowder and United Fresh Board Member John Chrosniak, met with United Fresh staff in Washington to discuss plans for the 2010 Produce Industry Leadership Program

The leadership program, established in 1995, is designed for produce industry professionals ready to take the next step in their leadership journey. Each year, 12 fellows are selected from a broad cross-section of the produce industry to participate in the yearlong program, which provides foundational knowledge and practical tools focused on four core areas: leadership development; business relationships; government and public affairs; and media and public and communication. 

The program currently boasts over 160 industry graduates.  Thanks to a special grant from DuPont Crop Protection, it is the only ongoing, fully paid national leadership program for the produce industry.

Members of Leadership Class 15 take part in a California field tour in 2009.

"It's hard to believe we are entering our 16th year of this program," said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president, member services, foundation.  "While the program has developed a solid reputation, we also understand the importance of keeping it fresh and relevant. We have worked hard to ensure this program is constantly evolving to tackle the changes facing our industry and to best equip our future leaders with the most current industry training, trends and preparation."

For more information on the program, please click here or contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education coordinator, at 202-303-3400.

United Fresh 2010 Post-Show Conference to Address Sustainability

As part of the mission of its newly-formed Center for Global Produce Sustainability, the United Fresh Research and Education Foundation will present a special conference immediately following United Fresh 2010, April 20-23 at the Palazzo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

The Global Conference on Produce Sustainability aims to bring together representatives from all points in the supply chain to have a constructive discussion about how the industry's current practices will be sustained for both the short and long terms. The Global Conference will build on the resounding success of last year's inaugural conference, which focused on produce food safety standards and attracted more than 300 industry leaders.

"Sustainability is quickly becoming a core focus for the produce industry, and this year's Global Conference on Produce Sustainability will provide a venue for representatives from every sector of the supply chain to provide feedback on this important and timely topic," said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services and foundation. "Buyers, governments and public advocates are demanding changes in the way our industry does business, but at the same time, companies are beginning to realize the very practical benefits of reducing input costs, recycling and reusing materials, turning waste streams into positive benefits and more."

The conference is presented by the United Fresh Center for Global Produce Sustainability, which was founded through a generous grant from Bayer CropScience. The Center for Global Produce Sustainability is designed to help companies across the fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain enhance their businesses through sustainability.

For more on the Global Conference on Produce Sustainability and more on United Fresh 2010, please visit or call 202-303-3400

FDA Opens Mexico City Post

As part of the continuing effort to improve import food safety in the United States, FDA announced the opening of its newest branch in Mexico City. This is FDA's third post in Latin America and tenth abroad overall.

"The opening of this office represents an important step as we redesign our product safety strategy," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. "We, like our partners in the Mexican government, realize that prevention is the key. For example, more than a third of the fresh fruits and vegetables we eat come from Mexico as do a large amount of our medical devices. Having FDA experts located permanently there will be mutually beneficial to both our countries and respective citizens."

The Mexico City post will work with its counterparts in the Mexican government to harmonize regulations and guidance standards and to work on other collaborative initiatives. Agencies in both governments also will make efforts to find opportunities for joint training on food-borne illnesses and the oversight of food traded internationally.

For more on the announcement, please click here.

Vaché Talks Traceability in Hawaii

Produce traceability and pending food safety legislation were the issues of the day as United Fresh Vice President of Supply Chain Management Dan Vaché spoke before the annual meeting of the Hawaii Farm Bureau in Waikiki last Friday.

Vaché detailed the implications of the Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) and outlined United's policy priorities for food safety before nearly 200 members of the Hawaiian agriculture industry. He also spoke at length about the role of traceability in the food safety debate, highlighting the progress of the Produce Traceability Initiative in creating a more transparent and interoperable produce industry.

While in Hawaii, Vaché also met with officials from Armstrong Produce and the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Farm Food Safety Team, and toured several local farms.

For more on the visit, please contact Vaché at 202-303-3400.

Still Time to Complete Produce Traceability Initiative Survey

Members of the produce industry have until Monday, January 4 to complete an online survey launched by United Fresh and the Produce Marketing Association. The survey can be found at and is designed to give industry members the opportunity to share feedback on various aspects of the Produce Traceability Initiative.

For more information on the produce industry's efforts toward whole-chain traceability, log on to

Produce Inspection Training Available This February


This February, United is offering an exclusive opportunity to train under USDA experts and learn the metrics by which USDA inspects and grades fresh produce.

United's popular Produce Inspection Training Program, developed in partnership with U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, will take place February 22-26 at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors' Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, Va. This hands-on training course is designed to help produce industry receivers, handlers, buyers, shippers and sellers understand the fundamentals of the produce inspection process.

Taught by expert USDA trainers, the program is offered in two specialized courses: Fundamentals of Produce Inspection, which focuses on inspection essentials and general market principles, and Commodity Labs, which applies the principals learned to real product inspections. Each Commodity Labs course includes the five most commonly requested commodities (grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes) and is customized with additional commodities based on the attendees’ most common preferences

In addition to the February course, other editions of the program will be held June 7-11 and September 20-24. Class size is limited and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees may register online for the training seminars here or contact Julie Jacocks, education coordinator, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405. 

Accredited HACCP Course Returns to University of Georgia for 2010

Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology for United Fresh will speak as part of the education programming at the University of Georgia's accredited HACCP certification course Developing & Implementing GAPs and GMPs for HACCP-Based Food Safety for the Fresh Produce Industry. The course will run March 2-4 at the university's Extension Food Science Training Facility in Athens, Ga. United Fresh has again partnered with UGA to offer the course, which is designed to teach safe produce handling practices. This course is now accredited by the International HACCP Alliance.  

The three-day course will teach participants how to develop and document Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Sanitary Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) and Good Management Practices (GMPs) for farm and field operations, packing facilities, cold storage operations and produce shippers. Specific break-out sessions will use HACCP principles to teach participants to identify and prevent food safety hazards, set preventive/control measures and control limits, develop control and monitoring procedures, document and verify the results of their efforts, as established by the International HACCP Alliance.

United Fresh members will receive a $100 discount on their registration for the course if they register before January 29. For more information, please click here or call 706-542-2574 or email

Industry Mourns the Passing of John Derdivanis

United Fresh was saddened to hear the news this week of the passing of former United Chairman John Derdivanis.

"(Everyone) who knew John had the good fortune of enjoying a true character who always had the most upbeat, positive outlook and impact on the world around him," said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. "Always one with a quick joke followed by his big smile, you laughed along even when you'd heard the punch line before." 

In 1957, Derdivanis and fraternity brother Herb Fleming founded Admiral Packing Company, a major lettuce shipper for almost four decades. He was an active leader in the industry, serving as chairman of United Fresh in 1985 and president of Western Growers and the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California. 

A celebration of John's life will be held on Friday, December 18 at 2 p.m. at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 301 Corral de Tierra Road in Salinas, Calif. There will be a Celebration of Life Reception at 3 p.m. at Corral de Tierra Country Club, 81 Corral de Tierra Road, also in Salinas. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of the Central Coast, 2 Upper Ragsdale Drive, Suite D210, Monterey, Calif. 93940.

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:

  • C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn.
  • Chiquita Brands International, Cincinnati, Ohio

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:

  • DayMark Safety Systems, Bowling Green, Ohio
  • Slice Fruit A/S, Kolding, Denmark

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


News and Views

Missouri's error drops food stamp numbers

New York's Tonko proposes grants for school breakfast programs

FDA opens Mexico City post

USDA, Penn State invest in training new farmers

DC bill aims to improve nutrition, exercise among students


New Zealand, China work on food safety

Vietnamese ministries quarrel over apples and oranges

Australian school to participate in kitchen garden program

EU members call for ambitious farm bill

UK issues new guidance on labeling of food from illegal Israeli settlements

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