April 18, 2013
In Today's Issue:
FDA Grants Extension for Proposed FSMA Rules Comment Period

In response to a request by United and other industry groups to extend the comment period for the FSMA proposed rules, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg today announced that FDA intends to extend the comment period by another 120 days. The comment period was originally set to end May 16. Commissioner Hamburg's remarks about the extension were made in response to a question from Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), who made the inquiry at the request of United Fresh, during a hearing of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. United expresses its appreciation to Sen. Blunt for his support of the industry.

The extension comes only days after United Fresh and other industry organizations sent a joint letter to FDA.

From the April 11 letter to FDA:

"Based on our current analysis, it would be impossible for any interested party to meaningfully comment on these two proposed rules by the current deadline of May 16, 2013 given they propose such a substantial overhaul of the structure of food safety regulation; the sheer size of the regulations lengthens the time necessary for analysis."

United Fresh appreciates FDA's willingness to provide more time for review of the proposed FSMA rules and looks forward to working with industry stakeholders and FDA during the deliberative review process.

More information about the Food Safety Modernization Act can be found at UnitedFresh.org/FSMA.

Please contact United's Robert Guenther or Dr. David Gombas with questions at 202-303-3400.

United Applauds Proposed Agriculture Labor Reform

Participating in the announcement of the ag labor reform plan, from left to right, were Arturo Rodriguez, United Farm Workers; Nancy Foster, US Apple Association; Chuck Conner, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; Tom Stenzel, United Fresh; Tom Nassif, Western Growers; Jerry Kozak, National Milk Producers Federation; and Mike Stuart, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association.

Pictured at the news conference (left to right) Mike Stuart, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Assoc.; Tom Stenzel, United; Arturo Rodriguez, United Farm Workers; and Tom Nassif, Western Growers.

United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel, fellow industry CEOs and the United Farm Workers (UFW) voiced support the agriculture labor provisions included in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act at a press event on Wednesday. The landmark legislation was introduced in the Senate on the same day and includes provisions based on agreements made by the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), United Farm Workers, and key lawmakers.

"This is an important step forward in our fight to achieve meaningful immigration reform to provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers," said United CEO Tom Stenzel. 

Stenzel was joined at the event by Chuck Conner, President & CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; Arturo Rodriguez, President, United Farm Workers; Tom Nassif, President & CEO, Western Growers; Jerry Kozak, President & CEO, National Milk Producers Federation; Mike Stuart, President & CEO, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association; and Nancy Foster, President & CEO, US Apple Association.

"The introduction of this historic immigration reform bill is due in large part to the perseverance of Senators Feinstein, Rubio, Hatch, and Bennet," noted Stenzel. "We extend our sincere appreciation for their tireless work to bring compromise to the table to shape a workable labor solution for all of American agriculture."

United Fresh will continue to advance agriculture labor reform as part of the broader immigration reform package to ensure a stable workforce for our members and the broader fresh produce industry through grassroots efforts and continued cooperation with AWC and other stakeholders.

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy, at 202-303-3400.


California School Foodservice Directors to Spotlight Produce Opportunities at United Fresh 2013

30 California school foodservice directors, who purchase fresh produce for more than 2,000 schools, will be honored guests at this year's convention.

Foodservice directors from Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Monterey, Sacramento and more than 30 school districts across California will be honored guests at this year's United Fresh convention in San Diego, thanks to the sponsorship support of Grimmway Farms and Duda Farm Fresh Foods. Collectively, these foodservice directors purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for more than 2,000 schools, serving nearly 1.3 million students each day. 

"We are proud to facilitate the connection between school buyers and produce suppliers to provide more healthy options for students," said United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel. "Schools are a notable growth opportunity for the produce industry, as many schools are doubling the amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables served each day in accordance with new school meal standards."

The foodservice directors will be special guests at the May 15 Opening General Session Breakfast with keynote speaker Walter Robb, Whole Foods Co-CEO. The group will then be recognized for their leadership in using salad bars to increase student's fresh fruit and vegetable consumption at the press event to celebrate the donation of salad bars to 350 schools through Let's Move Salad Bars to California Schools. Following the event, the school foodservice directors will walk the show floor to network with produce suppliers.

Several of the foodservice directors will also share their perspectives at an education session, "Opportunities to Drive Produce Sales to Schools," in the Fresh Marketplace Learning Center on the show floor, taking place May 15 in the afternoon. The session will highlight how foodservice directors are using fresh fruits and vegetables to create healthier school food environments, what they need from produce suppliers, and how produce companies can develop collaborative partnerships to boost sales and consumption.

See the Thousands of Produce Industry Leaders Attending United Fresh 2013

United Fresh 2013 is right around the corner and thousands of produce industry leaders just like you are registered for this must-attend convention! Register today and take advantage of the outstanding combination of cutting-edge education, technical innovations, marketing expertise and networking opportunities.

Curious about who else will be there? Download the United Fresh 2013 Attendee List Today!

United Fresh 2013 is the best strategic event for your team to grow and succeed:

  • More than 275 exhibitors demonstrating the latest in produce innovations – all new opportunities to grow your business.
  • More than 50 hours of educational opportunities featuring industry leaders discussing today's most important issues to drive your business forward.
  • More than 12 hours of intimate and all inclusive networking opportunities to help you build relationships and grow your business.

Add your name to this growing list by
registering today!


CDC Joins the Discussion on Produce Washing

Managing wash water was the topic of discussion this week in a meeting organized by Taco Bell/Yum! Brands and Taylor Farms at the Taylor Farms facility in Smyrna, TN. Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president food safety and technology was joined by water specialists Dr. Michael Beach and Dr. Vincent Hill from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to explore more effective practices to control contamination spread through wash water.

"The fresh-cut industry is working on multiple fronts to better understand the right approach to manage and validate wash water systems to control the potential for cross-contamination," said Gombas. "Our understanding of the importance, objectives and potential risks when washing produce has changed dramatically over the past decade, so how we design and control wash systems is likely to change, too. Drs. Beach and Hill from CDC brought a unique perspective to the discussion and helped generate several ideas that the industry can follow up on."

The group concluded that out-of-the-box thinking may be necessary, without restriction to existing equipment or processes. As described by Sean Picquelle, produce and beverage product quality and food safety manager for Taco Bell, and vice chair of the United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Board, "We need to take a blank sheet approach to produce washing and wash system design."

For more information, please contact Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3400.


North American Produce Transportation Working Group Publishes Spanish Resources

The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWG) is proud to announce the posting of a Spanish version of the NAPTWG website. The site offers best practice documents pertaining to the handling and transport of fresh produce to facilitate a seamless, safe, and sustainable global supply-chain. The transportation resources are intended for shippers, receivers and carriers.

"With so many warehouse workers, truckers and others in the industry speaking Spanish, it is vital to have this document translated. It is a very technical document, so it's crucial that all parties understand this in its entirety," said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas in Nogales, Arizona.

"Presenting these documents in Spanish is a milestone for the NAPTWG and our efforts to harmonize the fresh produce supply chain. Translating the site to make it available to a wider audience is a sign of the group's commitment to strengthening our cross-border relationships for the advancement of the industry," said Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management for United Fresh.

For more information, please visit the NAPTWG website, which is now available in Spanish and French.


Experience the Taste of San Diego Brought in by the Surf

Want to experience a Taste of San Diego? Register now for your chance at next week's featured restaurant: The Marine Room. For generations of San Diegans, the "Seahorse" symbol of The Marine Room has long stood for its dramatic on-the-surf location, award-winning cuisine and uncompromising service. Opened in 1941, the restaurant quickly became famous as pounding surf created dramatic displays against the restaurant's windows, where each tide brings something new to The Marine Room. You're not reserving a table – you're joining a 70-year tradition.

Every Thursday through May 2, 2013, United Fresh will draw one lucky winner from the United Fresh 2013 registered attendee list. Each winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to one of San Diego's finest restaurants, courtesy of our promotional sponsor, Diversified Restaurant Systems, Inc.

Congratulations to Bill Munger, Amerifresh, this week's winner of our Taste of San Diego give away. Our winner will receive a gift certificate to dine at Bertrand at Mister A's. With the most spectacular views in San Diego, Bertrand at Mr. A's is just minutes from Downtown and an eternity from the ordinary dining experience. Toast an inspiring sunset from the outdoor, wrap around balcony. Don't miss the crispy roasted Moulard duck breast with huckleberry sauce and smoked potato hash or the whole oven roasted Maine Lobster with orange scented quinoa and cauliflower florets.

Register today for United Fresh 2013 and you'll be automatically entered for United's Taste of San Diego giveaway. You could win a gift certificate to one of the best restaurants in San Diego!

The sooner you register, the greater your chances to win a certificate to one of these stellar restaurants:

Baci Ristorante
Bertrand at Mister A's
Bully's East
Donovan's Steak & Chop House
George's at the Cove
Island Prime
Mille Fleurs
On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
Pamplemousse Grill
Poseidon on the Beach
Ruth's Chris Steak House
The Marine Room
The Oceanaire Seafood Room
The Prado at Balboa Park

Learn more about these great restaurants and how you can experience a Taste of San Diego!


Deadline to Participate in Compensation Survey is Friday!

The United Fresh Produce Industry Compensation Survey offers a competitive edge for your company and your executive team by providing valuable research and compensation benchmarks for over 30 produce industry positions.

Friday, April 19, 2013 is the deadline to submit data for the survey. It is open to any U.S.- or Canadian based produce industry employer - including grower-shippers, brokers, wholesaler-distributors, importers, exporters and fresh-cut processors.

There is no cost to participate in the confidential survey and companies that submit data for the survey are eligible to receive a fully-customized compensation report for their company at the highly discounted rate of $195 (save $300!).

The final report will allow produce industry members to benchmark their companies against others to ensure their competitiveness, and answer critical questions such as:

  • Am I over-paying or under-paying my employees?
  • How does my company compare to the industry norms?
  • What kind of compensation and benefits package do I need to put together to attract and keep top talent?

The survey is available at www.unitedfreshsurvey.com. Companies that participate in submitting data for the survey are eligible to receive a fully-customized report for their company at a deeply discounted rate. For more information on the survey, please contact Victoria Backer at 202-303-3408.


Hands-On HACCP for the Fresh-Cut Industry Workshop Offered at UGA

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. This year, the new agenda will address forthcoming FSMA regulations and the proposed Preventive Control Rule as they relate to the fresh-cut produce industry. The course is accredited by the International HACCP Alliance, successful completion of the course and exam provides HACCP certification.

The course will draw attention to three main sources of contamination – microbial, chemical and physical – that may occur as fresh produce moves from the field through the processing plant to the table. HACCP is a specific action plan developed to identify and control any of these hazards from entering the handling process, and to document the safety of fresh-cut produce.

The three-day course, held June 11-13 at University of Georgia's Athens campus, will provide a unique program of lectures and work group discussions from a broad-based faculty of food microbiologists, HACCP experts, 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 your sanitation program, how to interpret microbial results and which standardized procedures are best for consistent microbial analysis in testing fresh-cut produce.
The program is open to owners, plant managers, quality assurance personnel, production supervisors, field inspectors, marketing directors, and anyone responsible for designing and implementing field and fresh-cut food safety programs.

Register by May 27! United Fresh members receive discounted registration. Click here for more information or contact UGA at 706-542-2574 or efs@uga.edu.


New Member Welcome
day planner

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

  • BFresh, Irvine, CA
  • Bio-Rad Laboratories, Hercules, CA

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 Miriam Wolk at 202-303-3410.

Upcoming United Fresh Events

day plannerJoin us for events designed to grow your business:

United Fresh 2013
May 14-16, San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

Produce Marketing & Merchandising Conference
May 17, San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

Produce Inspection Training Program
June 3-7, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

Washington Public Policy Conference
Sept 30 – Oct 2, Washington, DC