January 12, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Report on Listeria Outbreak in Cantaloupes Released, Industry Plans Next Steps

The House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee has released a report on last summer’s Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that examines production conditions and audits of the Colorado cantaloupe packing facility. The eight-page report reviews interviews with food safety officials at the Food and Drug Administration, and officials from the grower, distributor and third-party auditors. Two probable causes of the introduction and spread of the Listeria contamination were highlighted in the report: design and execution flaws in the processing equipment and the lack of an antimicrobial solution, such as chlorine, in the water used to wash the cantaloupes. The full text of the report is available online.

“This appears to be a thorough and thoughtful investigation by the committee in working to understand exactly what happened in this tragic incident,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and CEO. “The produce industry will look carefully at the questions raised in the report as we continue to work to prevent any contamination of our products.”

The Center for Produce Safety at UC-Davis is hosting a cantaloupe industry meeting in California this week to discuss ways to enhance safety measures across the entire industry. “While this outbreak was clearly linked to only one facility, we want to learn from this experience to ensure that all producers and packers are incorporating the very best management practices in their operations,” Stenzel said.

Former First Lady Laura Bush, FMI Chairman and Harris Teeter President Fred Morganthall to Headline United Fresh 2012

United has announced a captivating line-up of headline speakers for United Fresh 2012, May 1-3 in Dallas. Former First Lady Laura Bush will deliver remarks on her life experiences, sharing perspectives learned from eight years in the White House and beyond. Convention attendees will also hear from Chairman of the Food Marketing Institute Fred Morganthall, President of Harris Teeter, who will lend insight into the retail industry and ways to strengthen the relationship between producers and retailers to better serve consumers.

On May 2, United Fresh will proudly welcome Laura Bush to the stage for the Wednesday Breakfast General Session. As one of the most respected and popular First Ladies, Mrs. Bush continues to be active in issues of national and global concern. Mrs. Bush brought a comforting grace to the White House through some of the most challenging and tumultuous times in United States history including the September 11th terrorist attacks, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some of the country’s most trying economic times. During her remarks, she will share personal perspectives from her life and thoughts on how to stay focused, keep a positive outlook and provide leadership in difficult times.

FMI Chairman Fred Morganthall, president of North Carolina-based Harris Teeter, Inc. will present his vision for the future of food retailing to kick off the Tuesday, May 1 Breakfast General Session. In his role as Chairman of FMI, he will share critical perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing the retail industry and what the future has in store.  Attendees will hear valuable insights on how the produce and retail industries can work together to serve the ultimate buyer: the consumer. 

United Fresh 2012 will be attended by more than 25,000 decision makers from the produce, retail, and meat industries and is sure to be a valuable event you won’t want to miss! For more information, please visit UnitedFresh2012.org or contact United Fresh at 202-303-3400.

USDA Announces Office Closures to Cut Budget

United Fresh expects minimal impact to the produce industry from budget cuts announced this week by USDA. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a plan to save $150 million a year in the agency's $145 billion budget, which includes closing 259 USDA facilities in 32 states, with the largest number of closures in Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas. The changes announced range from measures such as consolidation of cell phone plans used by the department to closures of offices with only one or two employees, and are expected to be fully implemented by mid-summer 2012. The proposal has sparked concerns regarding food safety, but Elisabeth Hagen, undersecretary for food safety, said the closures would only affect management and support staff. “There will be no reduction in inspection presence at slaughter and processing facilities and no risk for consumers," Hagen said. “Not only do we have a statutory obligation to be in every facility, we have an unwavering commitment to food safety. We will still be on the job, in every facility, every day."

An initial review by United Fresh of the USDA proposal does not indicate a significant disruption of services to the produce industry, but said Julie Manes, United Fresh Director of Government Relations, “We will be continuing our review of USDA’s proposal to make sure that the produce industry can get the kind of service and communication we need from the department. The produce industry continues to face a number of significant challenges and we need to be sure that USDA can provide the assistance our producers and others in the produce chain need to meet those challenges.”

D.C. Schools Prioritize Salad Bars, While Medical Journal Study Finds Salad Bars Increase Produce Consumption at School

10 ft salad bar gives students a wide variety at Woodrow Wilson H.S. in Washington, D.C.

Jeff Mills, Foodservice Director for D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) has a vision – a salad bar in every Washington, D.C. Public School. Currently, 27 DCPS schools have salad bars, with ten added just this year, and he’s on a quest for more. The salad bars have dramatically increased the amount and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables served, cut down on the time students wait in line, and are quickly growing in popularity. DCPS is now prioritizing elementary schools in an effort to secure access to healthy fruits and vegetables for the younger students, and to familiarize them with a variety of fresh produce items.

The success of D.C.’s school salad bars comes on the heels of a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which indicates the majority of students are not consuming enough fruits and vegetables to meet daily recommendations. In 2010, the average student ate fruits and vegetables only once per day. The text of the study can be found here. The study, piloted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mentions school salad bars as a promising strategy to improve the availability of fruits and vegetables and cites the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.

An abstract presented at the November 2011 annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) introduces a study that found students who have access to a school salad bars were significantly more likely to eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day. The abstract, presented by Diane M. Harris, PhD, MPH, CHES, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can be read here.

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools has donated more than 1,000 salad bars to schools nationwide with the support of the United Fresh Foundation, a founding partner, and leading produce companies and other corporate partners. The donation of the salad bars is meant to showcase the produce industry’s commitment to improving the health of children, and to support First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.

For more information about this article, or how you can become involved with the United Fresh Foundation’s partnership in the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, please contact Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3400 ext. 407.

Food Safety, United Fresh Awards at SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference

Dr. David Gombas presents award to Beth Bland Oleson.

Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh Senior Vice President, Food Safety and Technology, shared the stage with Oscar Garrison, Division Director, Georgia Dept of Agriculture and President, Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) at last week’s annual SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah, talking with more than 100 growers about what to expect when FDA publishes the proposed Produce Safety rule, anticipated this month.

“FDA has demonstrated unprecedented transparency prior to releasing the proposed rule, so we think we know how the rule will be structured. However, the devil is in the details, and it is important for every fresh produce grower and handler to understand what the proposed rule requires, and provide comments to FDA about what works and how the rule could be structured better. It’s also important for the industry to speak with one voice, to the extent it can, and avoid sending FDA conflicting messages,” said Gombas, recommending that the industry work through their respective commodity, regional or national associations in developing comments and noting that United Fresh and Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) have already begun preparing.

Gombas was also invited to speak at the Conference Awards Breakfast, recognizing GFVGA as the 2011 recipient of the United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year award, presented to the association leadership at the Washington Public Policy Conference in October. He also recognized GFVGA’s Beth Bland Oleson as one of the twelve candidates selected for the 2011 Produce Industry Leadership Program. According to Gombas, “United Fresh considers both of these as prestigious accomplishments, and GFVGA members should take pride in the leadership demonstrated by their association and its staff.”

Global Produce Industry to Be Featured at Fruit Logistica/FreshConex 2012

The global produce industry will gather in Berlin February 8-10 for an extensive exhibition of 2,400 booths from over 80 countries. United Fresh will be represented at the event with an exciting booth to serve as the rallying point for United Fresh members in attendance. United will also be co-hosting the 5th European “Short-course on Quality and Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce” just prior to the FreshConex and Fruilt Logistica Expositions beginning on February 6.

The International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) will host its second global forum at Fruit Logistica’s FreshConex Exposition February 9. United President and CEO Tom Stenzel will present opening remarks as Chairman of the IFPS, and will welcome business executives and directors involved in the global supply chain of fresh produce. The forum will include discussions on the global harmonization of food safety standards, logistics and transportation management, and product identification.

“Fruit Logistica/CONEX is an international fresh produce trade show, which is exactly the stage we need to address these global food safety issues,” said Stenzel. “Harmonization of these standards would improve food safety, and potentially increase efficiency and market share for our members.”

For more information on Fruit Logistica/FreshConex, contact United Fresh at 202-303-4300.

Let United Fresh Treat You to Exceptional Dining at Dallas’ Finest Restaurants
Register today for United Fresh 2012 and you’ll be automatically entered for United’s Taste of Dallas giveaway! You could win a gift certificate to one of the 50 best restaurants in Dallas!

“The Dallas restaurant scene is composed of some of the top chefs in America. The dining and wine pairings available are rivaled by only New York and San Francisco, and we are very pleased to have you come and taste the fabulous food that Dallas has to offer,” said Lucian M. LaBarba, President of FreshPoint Dallas and proud sponsor of Taste of Dallas.

Every Thursday, starting January 12, through April 26, 2012, United Fresh will draw three lucky winners from the United Fresh 2012 registered attendee list. Each winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to one of Dallas’ finest restaurants, courtesy of our promotional sponsor, FreshPoint Dallas. Watch for next week’s Inside United Fresh to see if you’re a winner.

Congratulations to this week’s winners! They’ll be enjoying widely-renowned Chef Kent Rathbun’s spectacular style of contemporary global cuisine at his five-star restaurant family in Dallas.

  • Jasper’s – Thomas Murphy, Baldor Specialty Foods, Inc
  • Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen – Chris Henry, The Giumarra Companies
  • Abacus – Mike Ross, The Kroger Co.

Register now to be eligible to win a gift certificate to next week’s featured restaurants.

Next week, we’re featuring the ever-popular Pappas Restaurants!

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen has been serving up the finest and freshest seafood since 1986. You’ll enjoy fresh fish prepared in true Louisiana style in a casual, energetic atmosphere.

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse is widely recognized as one of the highest-quality steakhouse restaurants in the nation. The menu showcases carefully crafted, flavorful steaks using only dry-aged, prime beef and an award-winning wine list to complete your fine dining experience.

Pappasito’s Cantina is a local favorite for its legendary sizzling fajitas, hand-crafted margaritas and some of the best chips and homemade salsa north of the Rio Grande. Don’t miss out on the filet mignon fajitas or handmade tamales!

Chinese Agricultural Delegation Meets With United Fresh

United Staff Miriam Miller Wolk, Julie Manes and Burleson Smith with delegation

United Fresh hosted a 22-member Chinese delegation at its Washington offices to discuss food safety, marketing, sustainability and other issues.The group was briefed on United’s mission and membership by United staff, who were on hand to answer questions and give helpful insights into the produce industry. Led by Mr. Yuanpei Zhang, a research scientist at the Ningxia Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences, the delegation discussed the strengths of the fresh produce industry in the United States, particularly in regards to the new food safety law and upcoming Farm Bill legislation. The delegates also inquired about ways to help small producers enter the competitive supply chain and for advice on existing technology to make sandy land more suitable for agriculture. The group included various government and private sector officials involved in agricultural issues in China.

Nominate a Chef and Produce Manager Today for Recognition at United Fresh 2012

The Monday, January 16, 2012 deadline for nominations to the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards and the Retail Produce Manager Awards is quickly approaching. These programs celebrate the efforts of produce managers and chefs working on the frontline to increase the consumption and sales of fresh produce.

Winners and each of their corporate executives for each program will receive complimentary registration to United Fresh 2012 in Dallas; roundtrip airfare to Dallas and accommodations during United Fresh 2012. They also receive special recognition and reserved seating at the Annual Produce Celebration on May 1, 2012

January 16, 2012 - Nomination Deadline

Nominate a Chef Today!

Nominate a Produce Manager Today!

For more information on the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards, sponsored by Pro*Act, click here or contact Miriam Miller Wolk at 202-303-3410. For more information on the Retail Produce Manager Awards, sponsored by Ready Pac Produce, click here or contact Victoria Backer at 202-303-3408.

Chairman’s Roundtable Thanks 2012 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 2012 Chairman’s Roundtable:

  • Giorgio Fresh Co., Temple PA

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 Senior Director of Membership Miriam Miller Wolk at 202-303-3410.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Deerpoint Group, Inc., Fresno, CA
  • Holcroft Postharvest Consulting, Davis, CA
  • TMW Systems, Beachwood, OH

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 Wolk at 202-303-3410.

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