May 6, 2010

In Today's Issue:


Chiquita, Cincinnati Public Schools, United Fresh Team Up to Bring Salad Bars to Cincinnati-Area Kids

U.S. Representatives Steve Driehaus (OH-1) and Jean Schmidt (OH-2) will be on hand at Cincinnati's Academy of World Languages on Monday, May 10 as the United Fresh Foundation's A Salad Bar in Every School campaign, in cooperation with Chiquita Brands and Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), dedicates the Academy's salad bar, as well as three others at Cincinnati-area schools. Joining Reps. Driehaus and Schmidt will be Chiquita Brands President, CEO and Chairman Fernando Aguirre and Chiquita Brands International North American President and United Fresh Board member Brian Kocher, as well as CPS Superintendent Mary Ronan and United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel.

In addition to the new salad bar at the Academy of World Languages, salad bars have also been added at Cincinnati's Carson Elementary, Pleasant Ridge Montessori and John P. Parker Elementary Schools. Three of the salad bars were provided by the United Foundation's Salad Bar in Every School campaign, thanks to a donation by Chiquita Brands. The fourth salad bar was purchased by CPS."

"It is important for students to have increased access to fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "United Fresh has a long track record of success increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables for children. Alongside the $1 billion federal commitment to national expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable School Snack Program and the launch of more than $750 million annually in fruit and vegetable vouchers for moms and children in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Salad Bar in Every School campaign truly has the produce industry poised to make a difference."

Launched in February 2010 by the United Fresh Foundation, the Salad Bar in Every School campaign is a multi-year public health commitment from the fresh produce industry designed to bring fruit and vegetable salad bars to schools across America.


Food Safety & Technology Council Releases Microbiological Testing of Fresh Produce White Paper

A working group of the United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council led by Bob Mills of Misionero Vegetables has completed work on a white paper regarding microbiological testing of fresh produce. According to the paper, "the purpose of the white paper is to briefly identify where a microbiological testing program may be useful and considerations to take for designing and implementing a program. It is not the intention of this paper to establish specific microbiological testing recommendations or requirements for any fruit or vegetable product or commodity." 

The white paper explores the factors companies should consider in deciding whether to perform or require microbiological testing before ever collecting the first sample, including assessment of the need to test, why not to test, what to test, when to test and limitations of testing. The paper also provides information on microorganisms and tests relevant to fresh produce, including aerobic plate count, psychrotrophs, yeast and mold, coliforms, thermotolerant or "fecal" coliforms, generic E. coli, pathogen testing and environmental testing.  Finally, the paper provides guidance on developing a testing program, including determining the quantity of samples, ensuring proper sample collection, selecting a sample site and actions based on results.

"Our intent was to provide a brief but useful resource on microbiological testing that anyone in the produce industry can use," said Mills.

"We know there is an ongoing debate in the industry on the need and usefulness of microbiological testing," said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology. "The white paper does not take sides in that debate. Rather, it provides a balanced, objective list of considerations, allowing the reader to decide for themselves whether microbiological testing makes sense for what they want to accomplish."

The white paper is available to download from the United Fresh website. Questions or comments regarding the content of the white paper can be directed to Dr. Gombas at 202-303-3400, ext. 411.


Fresh Convenience a New Asset for the Fresh-Cut and Value-Added Sector

United Fresh will partner with Market Intelligence's Fresh Convenience Magazine to present the Fresh Convenience Congress, a new educational program for the fresh-cut and value-added commodity sector, on June 22-24 at London’s Hilton Tower Bridge hotel.

The Fresh Convenience Congress will explore opportunities to capitalize on the growing fresh-cut and convenience market and examine new innovations that maximize profitability. Session topics include fresh-cut opportunities for the foodservice industry, expanding the European retail convenience market, technological innovations in packaging and machinery, sustainability trends in fresh-cut processing, seed varietal development and opportunities for new innovations in fresh convenience to help grow sales.

"We're delighted to join in bringing a major conference back to Europe for the fresh-cut, convenience sector," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "Companies benefit greatly from participating in Freshconex in Berlin and United's annual conventions and Washington conferences, and they now have an additional business forum to address issues shaping the future of the overall convenience market."

United Fresh member companies will receive a 10% discount on Congress registration fees by clicking here. For more information on the Congress, please click here or contact United’s Jeff Oberman or Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400.


DiSogra Takes WIC, Other Success Stories to Brussels

Prior to attending this week's EGEA Conference in Brussels, Belgium, United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra participated in a policy briefing for key members of the European Parliament on the success of fruit and vegetable vouchers now available under the U.S. Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC.

"In the USA," said Dr. DiSogra, "providing targeted subsidies for low-income pregnant women and their young children to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables has proven to be an effective policy strategy for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and improving public health." 

Joined by European produce colleagues and public health researchers, Dr. DiSogra's presentation was part of a smaller strategic group whose focus was to educate members of European Parliament and other European government officials about effective strategies for increasing access to, and consumption of, fresh fruits and vegetables. Other presentations focused on EGEA's recommendations on how to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, analyzing European fruit and vegetable consumption among differing socioeconomic groups, the adverse health affects of minimal fruit and vegetable consumption and the success of the UK Healthy Start Programme.

For more information about the EGEA Conference, please contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400, ext. 403.


Twelve Rising Stars of the Produce Industry Begin their Leadership Journeys

The United Fresh Foundation is pleased to announce the 12 members of the 2010-2011 United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program. Presented through the Foundation’s Center for Leadership Excellence and sponsored by a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection, this program was launched in 1995 and has since graduated more than 170 program participants.

The Produce Industry Leadership Program welcomes the following professionals to its 16th class:

  • Nina Brooks, H. Brooks & Company, New Brighton, MN
  • Chalmers Carr, Titan Farms, LLC, Ridge Spring, SC
  • Michael Connors, Basin Gold Cooperative, Pasco, WA
  • Tony Fazio, Fazio Marketing, Inc., Fresno, CA
  • Emily Fragoso, Coast Produce, Los Angeles, CA
  • Mike George, Taylor Farms Maryland, Inc., Annapolis Junction, MD
  • Gretchen Kreidler, Rio Queen Citrus, Inc., Mission, TX
  • Nick Mascari, Indianapolis Fruit Company, Inc., Indianapolis, IN
  • Jerry Moran, California Giant Berry Farms, Inc., Watsonville, CA
  • Bryan Tate, Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, KS
  • Dan Vena, John Vena Inc., Philadelphia, PA
  • Gary York, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., Monterey, CA

Beginning this July, the members of Leadership Class 16 will participate in a number of educational events and outings centered on the four core focus areas of the program: leadership development, business relationships, government and public affairs, and media and public communications.

The class also will take part in customized field and facility tours, train with expert educators and meet with key industry leaders and innovators. The program begins with a trip to Washington and Oregon, followed by tours of Washington, DC and Wilmington, DE, Southern California, and finally the 2011 United Fresh convention in New Orleans.

"We'd like to extend our sincere congratulations to the newest class of the Produce Industry Leadership Program and thank all of the candidates who applied for this year's program," said Leadership Advisory Committee Chairman and Board Member Nelia Alamo of Gills Onions. "The advisory committee was challenged to narrow the field to just 12 participants and considered a wide range of factors to ensure a well-balanced class. We are very proud of the industry members selected for this year's class and are confident that this program will help them develop into influential leaders who will lead our industry forward."

"A special thanks is owed to DuPont Crop Protection for making this program possible and for their generous investment in the future of our industry," said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, foundation. "DuPont has been the sole sponsor of this program since its inception, providing a unique opportunity for our future leaders to grow professionally and personally."

Candidates for the program must submit an application including two essays detailing their interest in the program and what they consider to be the most important challenges affecting the produce industry. All applications are reviewed by the Leadership Advisory Committee comprised of United Fresh Board members and program alumni. The committee is responsible for assessing each candidate based on their experience and expertise, as well as developing a class that is balanced and representative of the industry.

For questions or additional information on the Produce Industry Leadership Program, please visit www.unitedfresh.org or contact United's Julie Jacocks at 202-303-3400, ext. 405.


Fresh-Cut HACCP Short Course Returns to the University of Georgia

This May, United Fresh is partnering with University of Georgia on the Fresh-Cut HACCP Short Course workshop designed to establish an in-plant HACCP program for the fresh-cut produce industry. 

The three-day course, May 18-20, will provide a unique program of lectures and work group discussions from a broad-based faculty of food microbiologists, HACCP experts, and authorities from academia, industry and government. The work group sessions provide interaction with HACCP authorities who have developed and implemented successful HACCP programs in fresh-cut processing plants.

In the hands-on laboratory participation, the participants will learn which microbial testing tools to use to document and verify company sanitation programs, how to interpret microbial results and which standardized procedures are best for consistent microbial analysis in testing fresh-cut produce.

The goal of the interactive sessions is to assist participants in developing a Food Safety Plan that they can implement in their specific operations.

As an added bonus, this year's course is now accredited by the International HACCP Alliance, and successful completion of the course and exam will provide course attendees with HACCP certification.

For more information or to register, click here or call 706-542-2574 or email efs@uga.edu.


Local Food Production, Consumption a Focus of Updated USDA National Farmers Market Directory

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is launching its latest campaign to collect information about farmers markets for the 2010 USDA National Farmers Market Directory, the official count of the nation's farmers markets. Farmers markets can be added to the directory by market managers, representatives of state farmers market associations, state departments of agriculture, farmers market personnel, and nonprofit organizations.

"The USDA Farmers Market Directory provides a snapshot of what is happening at farmers markets, demonstrates how the industry is growing and expanding, and serves as a tool to help consumers find local farmers markets," said AMS Administrator Rayne Pegg. "For the future of sound farmer market policies, it is critical to make the USDA National Farmers Market Directory as accurate as possible. USDA can't do it alone, and we ask for assistance in compiling this directory. Participating in the USDA National Farmers Market Directory tells policymakers, legislators, and other stakeholders that farmers markets continue to be a strong growth industry across the United States."

For the past 15 years, USDA has been counting the number of operational farmers markets in the United States. Since the directory was first created in 1994, the number of farmers markets has tripled from 1,755 to 5,274. The directory captures information about where farmers markets operate, if they accept food assistance program vouchers and electronic benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Women Infants and Children Program, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and what types of products are being sold. This year, data will also be collected about the growing number of winter farmers markets. Data collection for the 2010 USDA National Farmers Market Directory will continue through May 14 at: www.ams.usda.gov/2010farmersmarketdirectory. The USDA National Farmers Market Directory is administered by AMS in cooperation with Michigan State University. Questions about the directory can be sent to directoryupdates@ams.usda.gov or 202-720-8317. The 2010 USDA National Farmers Market Directory will be released in late summer 2010.


CFSAN Issues Call For Comments on Front-of-Pack Labeling

The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has issued a request in the Federal Register for data and other information the agency can use as it considers ways to make nutritional information on food products more useful and available to consumers. CFSAN is particularly interested in receiving data and information on the following:

  • The extent to which consumers notice, use and understand nutrition symbols on front-of-pack labeling or shelf tags
  • Results of research that assesses and compares the effectiveness of potential approaches to front-of-pack labeling;
  • Graphic design, marketing, and advertising that can contribute to development of nutrition information that is more useful to consumers
  • The extent to which nutrition labeling affects food manufacturers' decisions about the contents of their products.

The goal of this request is to make calorie and nutrition information available to consumers in ways that will help them choose foods for more healthful diets - an effort that has taken on special importance, given the prevalence of obesity and diet-related diseases in the U.S. and of increasingly busy lifestyles that demand quick, nutritious food.

"New and improved products stimulate the growth and profitability of our industry," said John Toner, vice president of convention and industry relations for United Fresh. "The awards honor the results of years of R&D and the foresight of companies in bringing new innovation to the marketplace. Congratulations to this year’s award winners."  

FDA and USDA are working with public and private stakeholders to develop a voluntary, front-of-pack nutrition label based on sound nutrition criteria, consumer research, and design expertise, to supplement the information in the Nutrition Facts box currently on labels.

The deadline for submitting comments is July 28, 2010. For more detailed information and instructions for submitting information, please click here.


New Member Welcome

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

  • Meyer, LLC, Nogales, AZ
  • ToolWorx Information Services, Brighton, MI
  • Zoneworks, Milwaukee, WI
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
News and Views

Central Valley farmers air concerns to House panel - Fresno Bee

AgJOBS bill offers path to legal status - Watertown Daily Times

Produce rules aim to stop illness outbreaks - San Francisco Chronicle

New WIC benefits bring more local foods within reach – Washington Examiner

Support grows for healthy food bill - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

Tests detect residues in New Zealand food - Stuff.co.nz

Food safety training to boost EU-Africa trade - The East African

"Our food supply is safe," minister says - Montreal Gazette

The sexless life of the banana - Pattaya Daily News

When it comes to South African fruit, good looks count for all - Business Day


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