May 29, 2014
In Today's Issue:
United Fresh Disappointed in Action by House Appropriations Committee to Roll Back School Nutrition Standards

The House Appropriations Committee today, after a lengthy debate, rejected by a 29-22 vote an amendment to strike a controversial rider from its agriculture spending bill that would allow some schools to opt out of nutrition rules that mandate serving fruits and vegetables. Yesterday, United sent a letter to key lawmakers urging them to protect the school nutrition standards. Today, United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel issued the following statement in response to the action by the House Appropriations Committee:

“We are deeply disappointed by the vote today by the House Appropriations Committee to roll back school meal nutrition standards that benefit the health of millions of American children. However, we believe the spirited one and one-half hour debate on an amendment offered by Rep. Sam Farr to protect school meal standards shows that the waiver provision in the current bill is flawed.

“We do not believe the party line vote in committee to support Subcommittee Chairman Aderholt’s waiver provision is indicative of full House support for rolling back school meal standards. Rather, many members of the committee spoke in favor of providing technical support to schools and possibly delaying some of the more difficult provisions. While this vote in committee was up-or-down on the amendment, we believe thoughtful members on both sides of the aisle can find a real solution more like that adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.

“We believe there is strong support both at USDA and among a majority of House members to find ways to help schools adjust to some of the more technical requirements of the rules regarding sodium and whole grains, but preserve the critical importance of serving at least one half-cup of fruits and vegetables in school meals. Serving one-half cup of fruits and vegetables, in ways that kids love and want to eat, is one goal that we can accomplish together. Granting a waiver to that basic, minimal standard is unacceptable to even describe items on a school lunch tray as a “meal.”  The fresh produce industry is committed to providing school foodservice directors with technical assistance, training in produce procurement and handling, and sharing best practices of what’s working in thousands of schools across the country.

“As the Appropriations bill comes forward to the House floor, we urge members to work together on a bipartisan basis to strike the blanket variances allowing schools to opt out of all nutrition standards, and instead develop language that supports flexibility where it’s really needed, without rolling back the very basic principle that school meals need to include at least a half-cup of fruits and vegetables.

“If the House moves forward with a blanket variance allowing schools to opt out of serving at least one-half cup of fruits and vegetables -- over the objections of the national PTA, respected school nutrition leaders, and the entire public health community – parents in every congressional district across the country will be outraged.”

United will continue to voice support for protecting the school nutrition standards as the spending measure progresses through Congress. For more information, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400.


United Fresh Submits Comments to FDA on Proposed Rule for Designation of High Risk Foods

United Fresh last week submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the agency’s proposed approach for designating foods as high-risk for the purpose of enhanced recordkeeping requirements. United’s comments, based on broad and intensive discussion with member companies with expertise at each stage of the produce supply chain, addressed several points of concern:

  • High risk and the need for traceability are not connected. It is unnecessary for FDA to designate a food as “high risk” in order to require adequate and accurate recordkeeping to enable traceability.
  • No food is inherently high risk. As FDA describes in the preamble to its proposed Produce Safety rule, risk and the potential for contamination are more appropriately ascribed to handling practices rather than to the commodity itself.

  • Designation of a food as “high risk” can have serious consequences to public perception and confidence in the safety of the food.
  • United Fresh is concerned that a list of high risk commodities has the potential to be used for purposes other than to identify foods for which additional recordkeeping requirements are appropriate and necessary.

“We respectfully urge FDA to discontinue efforts to designate any commodities, by whatever classification system, as inherently high risk and, instead, focus on identifying commodities for which enhanced recordkeeping requirements are appropriate and necessary to protect the public health, even if that results in enhanced requirements for all foods,” United said in the comments to FDA.

Read United’s comments to FDA about this proposed rule here. Learn more about the FSMA rulemaking process by visiting You may also contact Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3400 for more information.

Learn New Ways to Reach Today’s Produce Consumers - Grower-Shipper Super Session at United Fresh 2014

Join United Fresh in Chicago for an informative Grower-Shipper Super Session that will explore how consumers use a variety of information sources to plan their fresh produce purchases. This session, Understanding New Ways to Reach Today’s Produce Consumers, can help you better understand today’s informed and engaged consumers, and learn ways that fresh produce marketers can best connect and sell to them in a variety of innovative retail formats.

Hear new consumer research from session speaker Jonna Parker, Senior Account Manager, Nielsen Perishables Group. Also hear from Steve Jarzombek, Vice President Produce Procurement and Merchandising, Roundy's Supermarkets, about produce retail innovations. The speaker panel includes two Chicago-area food bloggers, Kit Graham and Debbie Davis, who will share their perspectives on what produce consumers are looking for in their shopping experiences.

Make plans to attend the Grower-Shipper Super Session, hosted by the Grower-Shipper Board, or any of the other market segment Super Sessions hosted by the Wholesaler-Distributor Board, Fresh-Cut Processor Board and Retail-Foodservice Board. All Super Sessions are scheduled for Thursday, June 12, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. at the McCormick Place Convention Center.

It’s not too late to register to attend United Fresh 2014! Visit the website now and make plans to join us in Chicago!

For more information on the Grower-Shipper Super Session, please contact Ray Gilmer at 202-303-3425.


Are You Ready to Meet PTI Requirements from Retailers? Join the Educational Session at United Fresh 2014

Since Walmart announced their intention to have all of their fresh produce suppliers be PTI compliant in 2014, there has been tremendous activity by the supply side to meet the expectation. This educational session at United Fresh 2014, What’s New with PTI, Traceability and Warehouse Management Systems?, will explore how operations of all sizes can prepare for these PTI requirements.

“Walmart continues to work with all of their suppliers and has been successful in communicating and assisting growers especially the small and medium size operations. This panel session will cover Wal-Mart’s long term plans for the PTI and will include the process and success of becoming PTI compliant from a medium size grower/shipper and hear the results to date from their distribution center PTI audits. It is a session generating a high amount of interest as the PTI becomes a part of standard business operations in the fresh produce industry,” said Dan Vaché , United’s vice president of supply chain management.

The session is slated for June 12, 10:30 – 11:15 a.m. at United Fresh 2014. There’s still time to register and take part in this session and all the activities in Chicago. Visit the show website now to register and see the complete convention schedule.

For more information about the PTI educational session, please contact Dan Vaché at 425-629-6271.


Cal Poly Alumni to Meet at United Fresh 2014

United Fresh invites all Cal Poly alumni to a networking reception on Wednesday, June 11, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the United Fresh 2014 Membership Booth at McCormick Place in Chicago. It’s a fun opportunity to connect with fellow Cal Poly alumni and current Cal Poly students attending United Fresh 2014.

There is no cost to attend the reception, but RSVPs are required by contacting Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


New Time! Joint United Fresh/FMI General Session Moves to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10

The Joint United Fresh/FMI General Session, featuring the Keynote Address delivered by Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been rescheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 10 at the Arie Crown Theater at McCormick Place. Doors to the theater will open at 4:30 p.m., so be sure to arrive early to get your seat.

Prior to the General Session, United and FMI will host a hospitality area with refreshments outside of the theater. Thanks to our sponsor Wonderful Brands.

Following the General Session, be sure to join us for United’s Celebrate Chicago Style Opening Night Party, 6:30 p.m.- 8:30 p.m., North Promenade, Millennium Park.

Haven’t signed up yet? Good news - you've still got time to registerClick here to see the full detailed schedule of events.


Coming to Chicago? See Who Else is Attending United Fresh 2014

Do you know who’s coming to United Fresh 2014 next month? Make plans now to network and catch up with friends and colleagues from across the produce industry. Visit the United Fresh 2014 website, click on the Networking tab, then the 2014 Attendee List tab. The downloadable PDF is updated every week, so be sure to check back soon to see who else will join us  in Chicago.

Time is Running Out to Win a Taste of Chicago! Register for United Fresh 2014 Today

Just a few more days to register for United Fresh 2014 so that you'll be automatically entered for United's Taste of Chicago giveaway. You could win a gift certificate to one of the best restaurants in Chicago! 

This week’s drawing features these great Chicago restaurants: Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, Shaw’s Crab House and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood.

Last week’s lucky winners were Marc Oshima of AeroFarms, Jeff Schultz of Hollywood Markets and Ernesto Mier of Performance Produce LLC. Congratulations and bon appétit!
Every Friday through June 6, 2014, United Fresh will draw three lucky winners from the United Fresh 2014 registered attendee list. Each winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to one of Chicago's finest restaurants, courtesy of our promotional sponsor Testa Produce, Inc. 

Watch for the weekly announcement from United Fresh to see if you're a winner and Register now for United Fresh 2014 for the best chance to win!


Produce GAPs Steering Committee to Meet in Chicago

The Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Steering Committee will meet in Chicago on June 13 to review progress on the Harmonized Standards. Led by Chiquita Chief Operating Officer Brian Kocher, the Steering Committee is comprised of major produce stakeholders, including the major fresh produce buyers in the U.S. This will be the first meeting of the Steering Committee since the Harmonized Standards were completed in 2010. At the direction of the Steering Committee, the Harmonized Standards were developed to replace the diversity of production and harvesting food safety standards with one standard, harmonized from existing standards and applicable to any fresh produce operation, any size and in any region of the U.S., with a goal of “one audit, by any credible third party, acceptable to all buyers.” The Harmonized Standards have become widely accepted by growers and buyers, and the Steering Committee will hear reports from several of the audit organizations that have adopted the Harmonized Standards, including USDA, GLOBALG.A.P., and SQF.

For more information about the Harmonized Standards or the Steering Committee meeting, please contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3400.


New Member Welcome

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

  • AeroFarms, Newark, NJ
  • Country Fresh Mushroom Co., Toughkenamon, PA
  • TC Trading Company, Blaine, WA

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

Join us for events designed to grow your business:

Join us for events designed to grow your business:

Produce Inspection Training Program
Jun 2-6, USDA SCI Training & Development Center, Fredericksburg, VA

United Fresh 2014
Jun 10-13, McCormick Place, Chicago, IL

The Washington Conference 2014
Sep 8-10, Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

Produce Inspection Training Program
Sep 22-26, USDA SCI Training & Development Center, Fredericksburg, VA

United Fresh Foundation Tip Murphy Legacy Golf Tournament
Sep 29, Oasis Golf Club, Loveland, OH