May 27, 2010

In Today's Issue:


Steering Committee Reaffirms PTI’s Mission, Goals

Since the association's annual show in Las Vegas in April, United Fresh and its partners in the Produce Traceability Initiative - the Produce Marketing Association and Canadian Produce Marketing Association - have been engaged in ongoing discussions regarding the on the future course of the PTI.

Key to these discussions has been a conversation on adjustments to the initiative that might be appropriate to help the produce industry move forward in enhancing whole-chain traceability through industry standardization.

Following the release of a restatement of the PTI Steering Committee's commitment to the initiative, United Fresh Chairman Steffanie Smith released the following statement.

"I am pleased that our Boards and staff leadership have all worked well together to develop a consensus view for future direction of the initiative. In the days ahead, all three of our associations will be sharing additional information through meetings, webinars, and regular communications with our members.  We also look forward to working with many [members] directly in pilot projects to help bring clarity to some of the complexities involved in each stage of the PTI."

For more information on the PTI or the Steering Committee's restatement, please contact United Fresh Vice President of Supply Chain Management Dan Vaché at 202-303-3400.


United Fresh Members to speak at Fresh Convenience Congress

Four United Fresh member representatives will address attendees of the Fresh Convenience Congress, June 22-24 in London. The Fresh Convenience Congress will explore opportunities to capitalize on the growing fresh-cut and convenience market and examine new innovations that maximize profitability.

Paddy Callaghan, chairman of Nature's Best Limited, County Louth, Ireland, will speak on the Convenience Offer to Food Retail panel. Callaghan is the current chairman of United's Global Advisory Council and sits on the United Fresh Consolidated Board of Directors. He previously served on United's Fresh-Cut Processor Board.

Allessandro Turatti, president of Turatti Srl, and Bas Groeneweg, director of PerfoTec BV, will speak on the Packaging Machinery and Innovation panel. Turatti served on the United Fresh Consolidated Board of Directors from 2006-2010 Groeneweg recently addressed attendees of Freshconex 2010 in Berlin.

Daniel Kretzschmar, Nunhems France produce chain manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will speak on the Convenience and Seed Business panel. Kretzschmar was a participant in the 2010 Produce Executive Development Program at Cornell University.

"We are pleased to have Paddy, Allessandro, Bas and Daniel as speakers for the Fresh Convenience Congress," said Jeff Oberman, vice president of trade relations and staff liaison to the Fresh-Cut Processor Board. "Their many years of expertise and innovative ideas will bring great value to the congress participants."

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


FDA Reportable Food Registry Revised

The Food and Drug Administration has released an updated version of its electronic portal and guidance for mandatory reporting of contaminated foods and ingredients. Effective this week, the Reportable Food Registry portal at rfr.fda.gov has been replaced with the Safety Reporting Portal at www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov.

The new site has several improvements, including the ability to save a draft submission for future edits, and registering a facility for faster reporting. Along with the new portal, FDA released an updated draft guidance on who is required to report and when.

"Any operation that manufactures, processes, packs, or holds food and is required to register with the FDA is still required to comply with the Reportable Food Registry; farms are still exempt," said Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president food safety and technology. "A reportable food is still an ingredient or product that testing or other evidence demonstrates is reasonably likely to cause severe adverse health effects or death to humans or animals.  Such a food does not need to be distributed to be reportable."

The draft guidance has some important new clarifications. "We've talked with FDA regarding in-field microbiological testing of fresh produce and whether samples that test positive for a pathogen need to be reported," said Gombas. "Question D10 of the Guidance now clearly states that produce tested in the field and found to be positive does not need to be reported, but produce found to be positive for a pathogen after delivery to a handler must be reported."

The guidance is still "draft" and FDA is actively soliciting comments from the industry on ways to improve it.  Individuals wanting to provide comments to FDA should visit www.regulations.gov and enter docket FDA-2009-D-0260.

"This new version of the portal is shorter and much easier to use than the original version", said Gombas, "and that is mostly because of the comments FDA received from the industry.  There are still opportunities to improve this mandatory reporting system, and it is in the industry’s best interest to share those thoughts with FDA." 

A replay of FDA's teleconference on the new portal and Guidance will be available through June 24 by calling 1-888-562-6807 (1-203-369-3941 for international participants), passcode 8084. Please contact Dr. Gombas at 202-303-3400, ext. 411 with any questions about the Reportable Food Registry or the new Safety Reporting Portal.


WPPC First-Time Attendees Receive $100 Discount

Those attending United's Washington Public Policy Conference for the first time this fall will receive an additional $100 off the cost of registration.

"The Washington conference has been gaining momentum year after year," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh. "New attendees and fresh voices are what drive that momentum, helping United Fresh bring new challenges, ideas and victories to Capitol Hill. We are excited to do all we can to bring first-time attendees to Washington for the WPPC."

Held September 12-14 at Washington's Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, the conference is the largest of its kind in the produce industry. Attendees to the conference will meet face-to-face with members of Congress, cabinet and federal agency officials, as well as members of President Obama's executive team to discuss current events and issues important to the produce industry.

"The WPPC offers attendees a unique look at the inner workings of Capitol Hill and we certainly hope to see many new faces in Washington this fall," added Guenther.

To register or for more information, log on to www.unitedfresh.org, or contact Angela Bezon, United Fresh political affairs manager at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.


USDA Announces Funding to Develop Rural and Native American Communities

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has selected 27 projects to receive grants to help fund rural businesses, start new businesses, save and create jobs, and train workers in Native American communities in 12 states.

"USDA is working to ensure that members of Tribes have the tools they need to create a livelihood, expand economic opportunity and improve their quality of life," Vilsack said. "The grants announced today represent USDA's ongoing commitment to strengthen Tribes and support sustainable business opportunities."

The $3.4 million in grants announced today is administered through USDA Rural Development's Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program. This program provides grants for rural projects that finance the development of small and emerging rural businesses, help fund distance learning networks, and help fund employment-related adult education programs. More information about this program can be found at by clicking here.


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:

  • Bayer CropScience, Research Triangle Park, NC
  • Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, CA
  • pkg, Oxnard, CA

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:

  • Nextlife Packaging Group, Boca Raton, FL
  • pkg, Oxnard, CA
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.


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